Protestant Churches*

Please note that all protestant Churches started in Western Europe only mainly in England, Germany then France, Netherlands and Switzerland and spread to other European countries then to North America and lately to other continents but in very small numbers. Protestantism started primarily as protest against the indulgences of the Roman Catholic Church but then changed to be against most of the Doctrines of that European (Roman Catholic Church) splitting Catholics into two.  Soon thereafter that division did not stand and started to divide again and again to almost countless number as you will read infra.  Please note that during the wrong doings of the Roman Catholic Church and the original protestant divisions PLAGUES swept mostly western Europe, much worse than the plagues that hit ancient Egypt during Moses time when the Pharos and rulers refused to OBEY GOD. 

Protestantism, one of the three major divisions of Christianity, the others being Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Protestantism began as a movement to reform the Roman Christian church in the 16th century, resulting in the Protestant Reformation, which severed as reformed churches, a division from the Roman Catholic Church. The declared aim of the original reformers was to restore the Christian faith as it had been at its beginning, while keeping what they thought valuable from the Roman Catholic tradition that had developed during prior centuries.
The four main Protestant traditions that emerged from the Reformation were the Lutheran (known in continental Europe as Evangelical), the Calvinist (Reformed), the Anabaptist, and the Anglican. Despite the considerable differences among them in doctrine and practice, they agreed in rejecting the authority of the pope and in emphasizing the authority of the Bible and the importance of individual faith.
The term Protestantism was given to the movement after the second Diet of Speyer (1529), an imperial assembly at which the Roman Catholic majority withdrew the tolerance granted to Lutherans at the first diet three years earlier. A protest was signed by six Lutheran princes and the leaders of 14 free cities of Germany, and Lutherans in general became known as Protestants. The term Protestant has gradually been attached to all Christian churches that are not Roman Catholic or part of the Orthodox churches. In the 2000s the world have about 400 million Protestants (including some 64 million Anglicans), constituting about one-fifth of all Protestant Christians.
The Protestant movement actually preceded the 16th-century Reformation. Several dissident movements in the late medieval church anticipated the Reformation by protesting the pervasive corruption in the church and by criticizing fundamental Catholic teachings.
A- Precursors
Beginning in the 12th century, the Waldensians, followers of the merchant Peter Waldo of Lyons, France, practiced what they believed to be the simple, uncorrupted Christianity of the primitive church. The movement, concentrated in France and Italy, survived violent official persecution, and during the Reformation many Waldensians adopted Calvinism.
In the 1380s the Lollards arose in England, inspired by the teachings of the theologian John Wycliffe. Wycliffe denied the authority of morally corrupted church prelates, rejected transubstantiation and other traditional teachings, and advocated biblical faith. The Lollards suffered persecution but survived to play a role in the English Reformation.
Wycliffe’s teachings strongly influenced the Bohemian reformer Jan Hus (John Huss), whose followers, called Hussites, reformed the Bohemian church and achieved virtual independence after Hus’s martyrdom in 1415. Many converted to Lutheranism in the 16th century.
B- The Reformation
A number of conditions in 16th-century Europe account for the success of Martin Luther and the other reformers as compared to their predecessors. Both the Holy Roman emperor and the pope were declining in power and were preoccupied with the threat posed by the Ottoman Empire. The invention of printing in the 15th century made possible the rapid dissemination of the reformers’ ideas. Finally, the growth of secular learning, the rise of nationalism, and the increasing resentment of the pope’s authority among both rulers and ordinary citizens made people, especially in northern Europe, more receptive to Protestant teachings.
C- Martin Luther
The event usually considered the beginning of the Reformation is Martin Luther’s publication, in 1517, of his Ninety-five Theses attacking the indiscriminate sale of indulgences to finance the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther, an Augustinian monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg, had been unable to find assurance of salvation in traditional Catholic teachings. He came to believe that such assurance was to be found in the doctrine of justification by divine grace through faith which he thought Catholic theology had obscured by giving equal weight to the efficacy of good works. The sale of indulgences, he believed, was an abuse.
Luther at first intended only to bring about reform within the church, but he was met with firm opposition. In refusing to recant his views and demanding to be proven wrong by Scripture, he denied the authority of the church, and he was excommunicated. Protected by Frederick the Wise of Saxony, he wrote a series of books and pamphlets, and his ideas spread rapidly throughout the states of Germany and elsewhere in Europe. In Scandinavia, national Lutheran churches were quickly established.
D- Zwingli
Within a few years of Luther’s rebellion an independent and more radical reform movement emerged in Zürich, Switzerland, under the leadership of the Swiss pastor Huldreich Zwingli. Zwingli’s biblical studies led him to the conclusion that only what was specifically authorized by the Scriptures should be retained in church practice and doctrine. Lutheranism had kept many elements of the medieval liturgy, but Zwingli devised a very simple service, and, in opposition to both Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism, he interpreted the Eucharist as a purely symbolic ceremony. Zwingli’s reforms, adopted peacefully through votes of the Zürich town council, soon spread to other Swiss cities. Zwingli in 1524 marked his new status by marrying Anna Reinhard, a widow with whom he had lived openly. On October 10, 1531 Zwingli led a war and was wounded in Cappel Am Albis and later was put to death by the victorious tropes.
E- John Calvin
The dominant reformer in the generation after Luther and Zwingli was John Calvin, a French theologian who settled in Geneva in 1536. Calvin’s reforms were not as radical as those of Zwingli, but they were accompanied by a severe regime that in effect combined church and state in order to enforce moral and doctrinal conformity. Calvin wrote the first systematic exposition of Protestant theology, set up a democratic presbyterian church government, and founded influential educational institutions that trained men such as John Knox, who introduced Calvinism into Scotland, where it became the established Presbyterian Church. Calvinism also spread to France, where its adherents were known as Huguenots, and to Holland, where it reinforced the Dutch determination to achieve independence from Catholic Spain.
F- In England
The Anglican Church became the established church in England when Henry VIII assumed (1534) the ecclesiastical authority over the English church that had previously been exercised by the pope. Henry’s motive was to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragón rather than to reform church doctrine, and he imposed severe laws upholding the major tenets of medieval Catholicism. Under King Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth, however, the Anglican Church developed a distinctly Protestant creed that was set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles. Anglican ritual and church organization nevertheless retained many of the forms of Roman Catholicism, which were protested by Calvinist-influenced dissenters known as Puritans.
G- Radical Sects
As the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans formed established churches, a number of more radical Protestant groups emerged. All of them maintained that the established Protestants had not gone far enough in the direction of a simplified, biblical Christianity. They therefore attacked the established Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church with equal vehemence and in turn were violently persecuted by both. Some of these groups led political rebellions or invaded churches, destroying stained-glass windows, statues, and organs. Others renounced all use of force. Most of them rejected ties between church and state. The most prominent of these sects were the Anabaptists, who were concentrated in Germany and The Netherlands and who played a major role in the Peasants’ War. They rejected infant baptism, advocating baptism only of adult believers. The Mennonites, an Anabaptist sect that originated in Holland and Switzerland, were pacifists who tried to form separate cooperative communities based on the principles of the New Testament. In England, a movement led by Robert Browne rejected church government by either presbyters or bishops and developed into the Separatists, or Independents. These earlier groups greatly influenced the Quakers, who began in the 1640s as followers of George Fox and who professed pacifism and the “inner light”
H- American Colonies
Many of these smaller, more radical sects fled persecution by immigrating to America, beginning with the Puritans. They were followed to New England by Congregationalists and Baptists. The middle colonies were settled by a diversity of sects, particularly Lutherans, Mennonites, and Anabaptists. In the southern colonies the Church of England was made the established church.
I- Wars and Orthodoxy
The early history of Protestantism was marked by warfare in which political motives were entwined with religious ones. In Germany, the religious wars of the 16th century and the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century were bitter and devastating. In France the Calvinist Huguenots fought a bloody civil war with the Roman Catholics, culminating in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, in which many Huguenot leaders were killed. The Huguenots were granted toleration by the Edict of Nantes (1598), but most of them were forced to emigrate when it was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. In England, the civil war between Parliament and monarchy largely corresponded to the division between the Puritans and the Anglicans. After the Peace of Westphalia (1648), Protestantism entered into a period of consolidation. On the Continent the 17th century was a period in which Protestant orthodoxy was carefully defined and systematically expounded. This tendency has subsequently been called Protestant Scholasticism, by analogy with the systematic Catholic theology of the Middle Ages. Its emphasis was on the authority of the Bible and on rigorous logic.
J- Pietism
By the 1670s in Germany a movement called Pietism developed in reaction to the intellectualism of orthodoxy. Under the leadership of German pastor Philipp Jakob Spener, people began to meet in small groups in private homes to study the Bible and pray. Pietism stressed individual conversion and a simple, active piety rather than the acceptance of correct theological propositions. It spread throughout Germany and to Scandinavia and America.
K- Rationalism
The influence of scientific thought and the Enlightenment on Protestant theology was reflected in rationalism, a tendency that appeared in the late 17th and 18th centuries. It was anticipated by several earlier movements, including Arminianism, which denied the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional predestination, and Latitudinarianism, a tolerant, antidogmatic tendency that arose within the Church of England during the 17th century. Rationalism introduced a critical spirit into theology by insisting that traditional beliefs be examined in the light of reason and science. By stressing broad agreement on the major tenets of religion rather than the fine points of theology, it tended to undermine the rigid orthodoxies that had developed earlier in the 17th century. The purest expression of the rationalist tendency was Deism, a philosophical religion that rejected revelation, miracles, and the specific dogmatic teachings of any church (heresy).
Another form of Protestant rationalism that became influential in the 18th century was Unitarianism. It had originated in the 16th century on the Continent, where it was called Socinianism, after its founder, Italian reformer Fausto Socinus. After the Toleration Act of 1689, Unitarianism was openly professed in England, and during the 18th century it began to gain adherents in New England as well. Unitarians denied the doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ, stressing instead his ethical teachings and example (heresy)..
L- Methodism and Revivalism
The reaction against intellectual and formalistic tendencies in Protestantism that had produced Pietism continued in the 18th century, with the emergence of several popular movements that made a direct appeal to emotional religious experience. In England, the reaction took the form of Methodism, founded by John and Charles Wesley, who were influenced by both Pietism and Arminianism. Stressing conversion and a concern for the poor, they preached to large outdoor meetings throughout Britain and brought about a revival of religious fervor among the British working classes, who had been alienated by the prevailing formalism and rationalism of the Church of England. Because of official disapproval, the movement eventually separated from the Anglican Church and became one of the nonconformist denominations.
In the American colonies, English evangelist George Whitefield and other itinerant ministers preached at large open-air religious revivals and inspired the first awakening, a general revival of religious enthusiasm.
M- The 19th Century
During the 19th century Protestantism became a more spread as a result of intensive missionary activity. It also became increasingly varied, as new sects and theological tendencies appeared. The most influential Protestant of the century was the German Friedrich Schleiermacher. He understood religion as an intuitive feeling of dependence on the Infinite, or God, which he believed to be a universal experience of humanity. This emphasis on religious experience rather than dogma was taken up by the theological school of liberalism. Liberal theologians tried to reconcile religion with science and modern society, and they made use of the new historical and critical techniques of biblical scholarship in an effort to distinguish the historical Jesus and his teachings from what they regarded as mythological and dogmatic embellishments.
The Oxford Movement
Conservative trends were also present, notably the Oxford movement in the Church of England, which strongly affirmed the catholic and apostolic traditions of the church. Although some of its leaders, such as John Henry Newman, eventually entered the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglo-Catholics, as the adherents of the Oxford movement came to be called, continued to exercise an important influence in the Anglican Church, where they revived fasting and confessions and founded religious sisterhoods.
Revivalism continued to be important throughout the Protestants, especially in the United States, under the inspiration of such preachers as Dwight L. Moody. Many new revivalists’ sects appeared, such as the Adventists and the Holiness churches.
N- The 20th Century
The 20th century produced two reactions against theological liberalism. One was Fundamentalism, an American movement that was rooted in revivalism and insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible. The other was neo-orthodoxy, which developed in response to the suffering caused by World War I and which is particularly associated with the Swiss Karl Barth. He reaffirmed the sinfulness of humanity, the absolute transcendence of God, and the essential human dependence on God, doctrines that had been central to the Reformation. Unlike the Fundamentalists, however, Barth accepted the results of modern biblical scholarship.
After World War II, Evangelicalism, a more moderate outgrowth of Fundamentalism, became a major force in Protestantism. Concern with social and political issues also increased, as many Protestants participated in antiwar movements and the American civil rights movement led by Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr.
Another important development was the ecumenical movement, which brought about the mergers of many Protestant denominations throughout the world and led to the formation in 1948 of the World Council of Churches. Protestants entered into dialogues with one another and with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as with non-Christian faiths. In one move toward greater unity, four Protestant denominations in the United States agreed in 1997 to recognize one another’s sacrament of communion and to exchange clergy under certain circumstances. The denominations were the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Reformed Church in America. Talks that began in 1969 between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church also resulted in the recognition of communion between the two denominations; the agreement took effect in 2001. In another step toward reconciliation the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church healed their rift over the means to salvation in 1999. The two groups agreed that individuals could achieve salvation through God’s grace alone, although God grants them faith and the ability to do good works.
Most Protestant churches retained few doctrines of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, such as the Trinity, the atonement and resurrection of Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the sacramental character of baptism and the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper. Certain doctrines and practices, however, distinguish the Protestant tradition from the two older Christian traditions.
A- Justification by Grace Through Faith
Luther believed that salvation depends not on human effort or merit but only on the freely given grace of God, which is accepted by faith. Good works are not disdained but are regarded as the result of God’s grace working in the life of the believer. This doctrine of justification by grace through faith became a fundamental tenet of Protestant churches. Luther and other reformers believed that Catholicism had put too much emphasis on the need for believers to gain merits, to work their way into God’s favor by performing good deeds, by fasting, by making pilgrimages, and, in the popular view of Luther’s time, by buying indulgences. To Protestants this seemed to make the redemptive sacrifice of Christ unnecessary and to leave human beings, all of whom are necessarily sinners, in doubt as to their salvation. The reformers intended to stress the mercy of God, who bestows grace on undeserving sinners through the saving activity of Jesus Christ.
B- Authority of the Bible
Protestants affirm the authority of the Bible, which is considered the sole source and standard for their teachings; they reject the Roman Catholic position giving ultimate authority to the pope in matters of faith and morals. Luther and other reformers therefore made translations of the Bible to enable the laity to study it and use their own judgment in matters of doctrine. Despite this general agreement on the primacy of the Bible, however, Protestants disagree on questions of biblical interpretation and scholarship. Those who accept the results of the “higher criticism,” the historical and critical study of the Bible that was developed during the 19th and 20th centuries, are willing to consider some biblical passages inauthentic and to interpret certain other passages in a symbolic or allegorical sense(heresy). Conservative Protestants, such as Fundamentalists and most Evangelicals, insist on the absolute inerrancy of the Bible, not only in questions of faith but also in relevant areas of history, geography, and science. Furthermore, some Protestants believe that individual judgment should decide all questions of biblical interpretation(heresy), while others defer to the confessions formulated by some churches to guide members in their faith.
C- Priesthood of All Believers (heresy).
The leaders of the Reformation reacted against the Catholic institution of the priesthood by affirming the “priesthood of all believers.” Furthermore, as Luther argued, the vocation of any Christian, by contributing to society and thus serving one’s neighbor, is as fulfilling before God as any specifically religious vocation. Nevertheless, most Protestant denominations have an ordained ministry. Whereas the Roman Catholic priest is seen as a mediator of God’s grace through his administration of the sacraments, the Protestant minister is regarded as one of the laity who has been trained to perform certain church functions (such as preaching and administering the sacraments). As a result of this belief in the essential equality of all church members, Protestant church government has been democratic in tendency, although there are wide variations. The major forms of church government are episcopal polity (in which bishops exercise authority), which is found in the Anglican, Episcopal, and Methodist churches; presbyterianism (in which presbyters, or elders, are elected to governing bodies as representatives of congregations), found in the Presbyterian and Reformed churches; and congregationalism (in which the congregation itself is the highest authority), found in Congregational, Baptist, and many other churches.
D- Worship
In comparison with the Roman Catholic mass and the Orthodox liturgy, Protestant liturgies are simpler and place greater emphasis on preaching. The reformers established services in the vernacular languages and introduced the singing of hymns by the congregation. Some Protestant services (for instance, the Pentecostal) are almost completely unstructured and spontaneous, are centered on congregational participation, and emphasize spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues. All the Protestant traditions reduced the number of sacraments from the seven in Roman Catholicism to two, baptism and the Eucharist and some are none.
E- Recent Tendencies
Protestantism has continued to be changing in character, and change has accelerated since the 1960s. Some denominations have adopted very informal varieties of worship services in an effort to attract young members. Some congregations and denominations have divided over questions such as the ordination of women as ministers, the modernization of liturgical language, and mergers with other churches, as well as the perennial question of biblical interpretation and its relation to scientific concepts. Protestants as individuals and as churches continue to be conspicuously involved in controversial political and social issues, some on the conservative side, some on liberal or radical sides. The characteristic that distinguished the first Protestants—a willingness to question received opinions, to protest abuses, and to defy established authorities—has been retained by modern Protestantism, as it continues to exercise a profound influence on contemporary culture and society.

Huguenots, name given to the Protestants of France from about 1560 to 1629. Protestantism was introduced into France between 1520 and 1523, and its principles were accepted by many members of the nobility, the intellectual classes, and the middle class. At first the new religious group enjoyed royal protection, notably from Queen Margaret of Navarre and her brother, King Francis I of France. Toward the end of his reign, however, Francis persecuted the Protestants; his successor, Henry II, followed his example. Nevertheless, the French Protestants increased in number. At their first national synod (1559), or council, 15 churches were represented. At the next, held two years later, more than 2000 churches sent representatives.
The rise in the number of French Protestants excited the alarm and hatred of the French Roman Catholics. The religious hatred was intensified by political rivalry between the house of Valois, then in possession of the French throne, and the house of Guise. Catherine de Médicis, widow of Henry II, who governed in the name of her son, King Charles IX, at times allied herself with the Huguenots for political reasons, but generally sided against them. The Huguenots were persecuted severely in Charles's reign, and they in turn made reprisals upon the Roman Catholics. Finally, open civil war broke out. Between 1562 and 1598 eight bitter wars were fought between French Roman Catholics and Protestants.The Huguenot leaders in the first of the nearly four decades of conflict were Louis I de Bourbon, prince de Condé, and the French admiral Count Châtillon; subsequently they were led by Henry of Navarre, later Henry IV, king of France.
The principal Roman Catholic leaders were Henri I de Lorraine, 3rd duc de Guise; Catherine de Médicis; and King Henry III. Each side from time to time called on foreign help. The Huguenots obtained troops from England, Germany, and Switzerland; the Roman Catholics, from Spain. The treaties that concluded the wars usually granted the Huguenots some measure of tolerance, but the government's subsequent ignoring or outright repudiation of the terms of the treaties led to a renewal of hostilities. The greatest act of treachery of the period took place in 1572. Two years previously, Catherine and Charles IX had signed a treaty with the Huguenots granting them freedom of worship; they had remained on friendly terms with the Huguenots, calling Count Châtillon to court, where he enjoyed great influence. Having lulled the Huguenots into a feeling of security, on August 24, 1572, St. Bartholomew's Day, the queen mother and the king caused thousands of them to be massacred in Paris and elsewhere in France. Count Châtillon was found and killed by the duc de Guise himself.
The eighth civil war took place during the reign of Henry III, successor to Charles IX. The Huguenots, now led by Henry of Navarre, inflicted (1587) a crushing defeat upon the Roman Catholics at Coutras. Strife among the Catholics themselves, which resulted in the assassinations of the duc de Guise in 1588 and Henry III in 1589, helped the Huguenot cause. With the death of Henry III the house of Valois became extinct, and Henry of Navarre, the first of the Bourbon line, became king of France as Henry IV. To avoid further civil strife, he conciliated the Roman Catholics by converting to Catholicism in 1593. In 1598 Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes, by which the Huguenots received almost complete religious freedom

Church of England
Church of England or Anglican Church, the Christian church in England, dating from the introduction of Christianity into that country. More specifically, it is the branch of the Christian church that, since the Reformation, has been the established Church of England. The earliest unquestioned historical evidence of an organized Christian church in England is found in the writings of such early Christian latin fathers as Tertullian and Origen in the first years of the 3rd century, although the first Christian communities probably were established some decades earlier. A number of references to the church in Roman Britain are found in the writings of 4th-century Christian fathers. The ritual and discipline of the early English church were largely introduced by the Celtic and Gallic missionaries and monks, but after the arrival of St. Augustine and his missionary companions from Rome, in 597, and the ensuing fusion of Celtic and Roman influences, the Celtic forms gradually gave way to the liturgy and practices of the Roman West. During the next four centuries, the church in Saxon England exhibited the same lines of growth and development that characterized the church everywhere in the early Middle Ages. After the Norman Conquest (1066), continental influence in England strengthened the connections between the English church and the papacy. The vigorous assertions of power successfully made by popes from Gregory VII to Innocent III between the late 11th and the early 13th centuries were felt in England, as elsewhere, and clerical influence and privilege were widely extended in secular affairs. Several times during the medieval period, English kings sought to limit the power of the church and the claims of its independent canon law, but without success until the reign of Henry VIII.

The acts of Parliament between 1529 and 1536 mark the beginning of the Anglican church as a national church independent of papal jurisdiction. Henry VIII, vexed at the refusal of Pope Clement VII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragón, induced Parliament to enact a series of statutes denying the pope any power or jurisdiction over the Church of England. He thus reaffirmed the ancient right of the Christian prince, or monarch, to exercise supremacy over the affairs of the church within his domain. He cited precedents in the relations of church and state in the Eastern Roman Empire and until the 9th century under Charlemagne. Although his action was revolutionary, Henry VIII received the support of the overwhelming majority of Englishmen, clerical and lay alike. Support was given chiefly because no drastic change was made in the Catholic faith and practices to which England was accustomed. After Henry's death, the influences of religious reform were felt more strongly in England, and in 1549 the first Anglican Book of Common Prayer was published and its use required of the English clergy by an Act of Uniformity. The second prayer book, reflecting more strongly the influence of continental Protestantism, was issued in 1552 and was followed shortly by the Forty-two Articles, a doctrinal statement similar in tone. Both were swept away upon the accession (1553) of Mary I, who returned England to a formal obedience to the papacy that lasted until her death in 1558.
A settlement of the religious controversy came when Elizabeth I succeeded Mary as queen of England in 1558. Most of the ecclesiastical laws of Henry VIII were revived, an Act of Supremacy defined more cautiously the Crown's authority in the church, and another Act of Uniformity established the use of a Book of Common Prayer that avoided the Protestant excesses of the second prayer book. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Puritans increased their power and became more insistent in their demands for further reform in the Church of England in the direction of the Protestantism of Geneva and other continental centers. After the accession of the first Stuart monarch, James I, as king of England, in 1603, this agitation for religious change became closely associated with the struggle of Parliament against Stuart absolutism. By 1645, the Parliament party was strong enough to outlaw the use of the prayer book; in 1649, Charles I, king of England, was executed, and the monarchy was temporarily overthrown.
In 1662, after the Restoration of Charles II, the use of the prayer book, revised to essentially its present form, was required by a third Act of Uniformity. One more attack was made on the establishment of the Anglican church when King James II attempted to reintroduce the practice of Roman Catholicism in England. James lost his throne to William III and Mary II in the ensuing revolution of 1688.
Since the 17th century, successive movements have considerably broadened the Anglican church both spiritually and ecclesiastically. In the 18th century, the Evangelical Revival infused a new sense of piety and of personal consecration into the popular religion of the established church, arousing people to a deeper understanding of Christian responsibility toward missions, religious education, and the social and moral evils of the times. Foremost in this movement was the work of John Wesley and his followers, many of whom left the Church of England to become Methodists. During the 19th century, a movement was launched by a group of clerics at the University of Oxford for the purpose of recalling the Church of England to the Catholic elements in its spiritual heritage that had been preserved through the years of the Reformation. Low Church members, finding their piety and church practice akin to those generally characteristic of Protestantism, feared an excessive tendency toward the beliefs and practices of Roman Catholicism in this revival by High Church members (those preferring a closer adherence to sacraments and to Catholic liturgy). Despite this fear, the High Church Oxford movement prospered, transforming the face of the English church. It gave a new emphasis to the dignity and beauty of religious observances and to the central place of worship. Furthermore, the movement enlarged the theological concern of the church for the ancient Catholic and apostolic character of the ministry and for the sacraments, for its pastoral ideals, and for the meaning of its fundamental creeds. That both the Low Church Evangelical Revival and the High Church Oxford movement could develop within the Church of England illustrates the breadth and flexibility of the Anglican tradition of faith and practice, as does the very coexistence through the years of the Low Church and High Church tendencies. The Broad Church movement was also in existence for some time in the late 19th century, formed by those Anglicans who fell between the Low Church and High Church parties. It included the British educator Thomas Arnold, among other prominent church members. This envelopment of divergent tendencies often has caused controversy and tension within the English church, but many Anglicans believe that the comprehensive spirit with which the church holds together diverse points of view constitutes its intellect. The foundation of an independent Protestant Episcopal church in the United States dates from the time of the American Revolution, when members of the Anglican church in the former colonies could no longer give their allegiance to the mother church overseas. There followed the establishment of a number of other churches, centering upon the Church of England, that became known as the Anglican Communion. In addition to the churches of England, Ireland, and Wales and the Episcopal church in Scotland, separate and independent Anglican churches exist in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, western Africa, central Africa, the Republic of South Africa, India, China, Japan, and the West Indies. These churches and their numerous missions are located in nearly every area of the world, many of them among peoples of diverse origin who have become naturalized to Anglo-Saxon culture. They constitute a communion bound together in a common faith and practice.
The doctrine of the Church of England is found primarily in the Book of Common Prayer, containing the ancient creeds of undivided Christendom, and secondarily in the Thirty-nine Articles, which are interpreted in accordance with the prayer book. Appeal is made to the first four General Councils of the Christian Church, as well as generally to Holy Scriptures as interpreted by “the Catholic Fathers and ancient bishops.” The Church of England differs from the Roman Catholic church chiefly in denying the claims of the papacy both to jurisdiction over the church and to infallibility as promulgator of Christian doctrinal and moral truth, and in rejecting the distinctively Roman doctrines and discipline. Also, unlike the Roman Catholic church, the Church of England allows women to become priests. In 1975 the General Synod of the Anglican Church found the ordination of women to be theologically unobjectionable, although it was almost 20 years before the first women were ordained in 1994. The Church of England differs from the Eastern Orthodox church to a lesser degree. On the other hand, the Anglican church and its sister churches in the Anglican Communion differ from most Protestant churches in requiring episcopal ordination for all their clergy; in the structure and tone of their liturgical services, which are translations and revised versions of the pre-Reformation services of the church; and in a spiritual orientation in which a Catholic sacramental heritage is combined with the biblical and evangelical emphases that came through the Reformation.

Methodism, worldwide Protestant movement dating from 1729, when a group of students at the University of Oxford, England, began to assemble for worship, study, and Christian service. Their fellow students named them the Holy Club and “methodists,” a derisive allusion to the methodical manner in which they performed the various practices that their sense of Christian duty and church ritual required.
THE WESLEY brothers
Among the Oxford group were John Wesley, considered the founder of Methodism, and his brother Charles, the sons of an Anglican rector. John preached, and Charles wrote hymns. Together they brought about a spiritual revolution, which some historians believe diverted England from political revolution in the late 18th century. The theology of the Wesleys leaned heavily on Arminianism and rejected the Calvinist emphasis on predestination. Preaching the doctrines of Christian perfection and personal salvation through faith, John Wesley quickly won an enthusiastic following among the English working classes, for whom the formalism of the established Church of England had little appeal.
Opposition by the English clergy, however, prevented the Wesleys from speaking in parish churches; consequently, Methodist meetings were often conducted in open fields. Such meetings led to a revival of religious fervor throughout England, especially among the poor. John Wesley's message as well as his personal activities among the poor encouraged a social consciousness that was retained by his followers and has become a hallmark of the Methodist tradition. Methodist societies sprang up, and in 1744 the first conference of Methodist workers was held. Wesley never renounced his ties with the Church of England, but he provided for the incorporation and legal continuation of the new movement.
Soon after John Wesley's death in 1791, his followers began to divide into separate church bodies. During the 19th century many such separate Methodist denominations were formed in Britain and the United States, each maintaining its own version of the Wesleyan tradition. In 1881 an Ecumenical Methodist Conference was held to coordinate Methodist groups throughout the world. Conferences have been held at regular intervals since then. They are currently known as the World Methodist Conference, which meets every five years. The centennial gathering was convened in Honolulu in July 1981.
Early in the 20th century in Britain, the separate Methodist bodies began to coalesce. The Bible Christians, the Methodist New Connexion, and the United Methodist Free Churches united in 1907 to form the United Methodist Church, which in 1932 joined with the Primitive Methodist and Wesleyan Methodist churches to bring the long chapter of Methodist disunity in Britain to an end. Today the Methodist Church in the United Kingdom has the distinction of being the “mother church” of world Methodism.
The governing body of the British Methodist Church is the Conference. All church courts and committees derive their authority from the Conference and are responsible to it for the exercise of their appropriate functions. Below the Conference administratively is a church court for each district, circuit, and society. Geographic districts number 34. Each district is divided into circuits, generally 30 to 40 in number. Each circuit is subdivided into local societies, the number varying considerably. Administration of the church is not only delegated to the lower courts but also to 13 connexional departments. The work of each department is carried on at the district, circuit, and society level by responsible committees. By this means the Conference maintains control over the work of the various levels of the church. Communication is thus maintained between the Conference and all the members. The Conference also maintains missions around the world.
Methodism was brought to the U.S. before the American Revolution by emigrants from both Ireland and England. The earliest societies were formed in about 1766 in New York City, in Philadelphia, and near Pipe Creek, Maryland. In 1769 John Wesley sent his first missionaries to America. Francis Asbury, commissioned in 1771, was the missionary most instrumental in establishing the American Methodist church. The first annual conference was held in Philadelphia in 1773.
At the Christmas Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1784, the Methodist Episcopal Church was formally organized as a body separate from the English Methodist structure. Asbury and Thomas Coke were given the title bishop and became heads of the new church. Wesley sent Twenty-five Articles of Religion, adapted from the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, to serve as its doctrinal basis.
During the early 19th century, the tolerant doctrinal positions of Methodism and its stress on personal religious experience, universal salvation, and practical ethics gave it a major role in religious awakening and attracted converts in large numbers.
Annual geographic conferences were organized throughout the U.S. in the early 19th century. A democratic form of government similar to the federal governmental system was adopted in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and it remains the basic structure of the United Methodist Church. A Council of Bishops was set up as the executive branch of the church, with a General Conference as the legislative branch. Later, a judicial council was established to serve as an ecclesiastical court. The bishops and the judicial council were to meet under the supervision of the General Conference.
Within both British and American Methodism, two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper (see Eucharist), are recognized. Baptism may be administered by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling. Methodists interpret the Lord's Supper as either a celebration of the presence of Christ, as taught by the French Protestant John Calvin, or in a strictly memorial sense, as taught by the Swiss Protestant reformer Huldreich Zwingli.
In the U.S., as in Britain, division among Methodists came early. At the end of the 18th century, black members in Philadelphia withdrew from the church, where segregation had been forced upon them, and established an independent congregation. Soon church groups from other cities along the Atlantic seaboard joined with them to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In the second decade of the 19th century in New York City a similar movement developed independently; it attracted black congregations from other cities and became the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Agitation against the power of the bishops and a desire for lay representation caused another split in 1830, resulting in the formation of the Methodist Protestant Church. Slavery became the most divisive issue in the history of Methodism. Radical abolitionist Methodists broke away from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1840s to form the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which in the 20th century merged with the Pilgrim Holiness Church to become the Wesleyan Church.
In 1844 the largest schism in American Methodism occurred when the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was formed by supporters of slavery after the General Conference became deadlocked over the issue. In the 1860s the holiness controversy produced another schism, when a group of Methodist dissenters who believed in a reemphasis on Wesley's doctrine of personal holiness broke away to form the Free Methodist Church of North America. After the American Civil War, the two black Methodist denominations and the Methodist Episcopal Church tried to proselytize the black congregations within the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which in response encouraged and authorized its black members to form the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, now known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
The movement for unity did not succeed as completely in the U.S. as it did in Britain, where one Methodist church resulted. After much effort, three of the major Methodist bodies in the U.S., namely, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, united in 1939 to form the Methodist Church.
In 1946 two small denominations of German ethnic origin that were unaffiliated with Methodism but greatly influenced by it, the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, united to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church. In 1968 this church joined with the Methodist Church to become the United Methodist Church, bringing more than half of world Methodism into one denomination.
Methodist churches in other countries generally stem from either the British or the American Methodist traditions. Some national Methodist churches have become independent of their parent churches, which increases the importance of their cooperation through the World Methodist Council. The ecumenical movement, in which Methodists have been leading participants, has resulted in the unification of some Methodist groups with other denominations, making their long-term relationship with world Methodism problematic.

Churches of Christ
Churches of Christ, group of churches, with no overall formal organization, that relies upon the Bible as its only religious authority. Historically, the Churches of Christ existed as one communion with the Disciples of Christ until 1906, when they were first listed in the United States Census as a separate body. Members consider themselves true Christians in direct descent from the primitive Christian church and not members of a modern denomination. Local churches are autonomous and follow an extreme form of congregational polity, holding that the local body of worshipers is the only organization sanctioned by the New Testament. No general conference or assembly is held, and the group has no central headquarters.
The Churches of Christ have no formal organization for collaboration. Members approve only those religious tenets and forms for which specific authority can be found in the New Testament. Accordingly, their worship consists of a standard, fivefold pattern of reading and preaching from the Bible, the commemorative celebration of the Eucharist, prayer, the singing of hymns unaccompanied by instrumental music, and contributions for church support. Belief in Christ as the Son of God, repentance of sin, and baptism by immersion are requirements for membership.
Churches of Christ congregations are maintained in all 50 states. In the late 1990s the church reported membership of 2 million in 15,000 separate congregations.

Pentecostal Churches

Pentecostal Churches, large and varied group of revivalistic religious bodies characterized by belief in the experience of holiness or Christian perfection. This perfection is climaxed by an “infilling of the Holy Spirit,” as evidenced by “speaking in tongues” (ecstatic utterances frequently unintelligible to listeners) as the apostles did (see Acts 2:1-13) on the day of Pentecost (see Glossolalia). The theology of Pentecostalism, which is drawn principally from Methodist and Baptist tenets, is usually fundamentalist. No one body of doctrine is universally accepted by all groups. Certain beliefs are held in common, however, such as the pre-millennial second advent of Christ and the imminence of that second coming. Uncontrolled emotional behavior often accompanies the speaking in tongues, and many groups practice divine healing. Baptism, usually by immersion, and the Lord's Supper are the two practices usually observed; foot washing is practiced by many churches.
Pentecostal denominations are found throughout the United States and are spread abroad. In the United States most Pentecostal churches had their beginnings in the revival movement in the Negro Holiness Church in Los Angeles in 1906. A minority of them can be traced back to the Latter Rain revival movement led by A. J. Tomlinson, an American Bible Society salesman who founded the Church of God in 1903. The first schism occurred in 1917. In the years following, the Pentecostal movement split into several independent groups. Tomlinson's Church of God survives in three main divisions: The two largest divisions are based in Cleveland, Tennessee, and a smaller group is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama. In addition to the many smaller Pentecostal churches, found mainly in the South, West, and Middle West, hundreds of small store-front congregations exist in the United States as an effort to increase the number of its churches and members. Some of the larger bodies belong to the Pentecostal World Conference, an international fellowship.


Mennonites, Protestant evangelical religious group, which originated in Switzerland and the Netherlands at the time of the Protestant Reformation.
The Mennonites emerged in Switzerland in the 1520s as radical Protestants who went beyond the positions held by the Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli. They broke with him over the issue of infant baptism, and so were called Anabaptists, or “rebaptizers.” Because these Swiss Brethren rejected the concept of a state church and refused to sanction war or to accept military service, they were regarded as subversive and were persecuted.
A parallel movement emerged at about the same time in the Netherlands, led by Menno Simons, from whom the name Mennonite is derived. Educated for the priesthood and ordained in 1524, Menno Simons gradually moved to a radical position, until by 1537 he was preaching believer's baptism and nonresistance. As they did in Switzerland, Anabaptists in the Netherlands experienced years of persecution. Similar groups sprang up in southern Germany and also in Austria, where they were led by Jakob Hutter and called Hutterites
The Swiss Brethren continued to suffer harassment and persecution into the 18th century, and many fled to the Rhineland and the Netherlands, others to America (Pennsylvania), and still others to eastern Europe. In the Netherlands outright persecution ceased by the end of the 16th century, although some coercion and discrimination in favor of the state church persisted. Like the Swiss Brethren, many Dutch Mennonites immigrated, some to Pennsylvania, others eastward to Prussia and Poland, reaching, by the early 19th century, the Ukraine and other parts of Russia.
In Pennsylvania Mennonites were among those who settled Germantown in 1683. Both Swiss and Dutch Mennonites went to the colony in the following years. Distinctive among them, although not numerically the most important, were followers of a 17th-century Swiss Mennonite bishop, Jakob Amman, who were called Amish or Amish Mennonites. Their very conservative dress and other customs—especially their use of shunning as a method of discipline—set them apart from the surrounding society.
Later waves of emigration from Europe introduced variant strands of the Mennonite tradition into the United States. In each case the tendency was to take up land on what was at the time the western frontier. In the first half of the 19th century Mennonites from Switzerland and southern Germany settled in Ohio and other states westward to Missouri. After the American Civil War Mennonites from Russia, primarily of Dutch stock, settled in Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Following World War I (1914-1918) Russian Mennonites migrated to Canada, especially Saskatchewan. More came after World War II (1939-1945), but the destinations of the most recent Mennonite emigrants were Mexico, Paraguay, and Brazil.
In North America the largest Mennonite bodies are the Mennonite Church (“Old Mennonites”), with roots in colonial Pennsylvania, and the General Conference Mennonite Church, organized in Iowa in 1860. In the late 1990s, there were more than one million Mennonites. The Mennonite Church had about 100,000 members in the United States and Canada and the General Conference Mennonite Church had 37,000 members in the United States. Local churches are organized into district conferences, which send delegates to a general conference, or assembly. Many of the clergy serve their churches part time while engaged in secular employment. Throughout much of their history, Mennonites have been a rural people, traditionally farmers. The traditional use of the German language in worship survives only in the most conservative groups. Both the Mennonite Church and the General Mennonite Church sponsor institutions of higher education. The Mennonite Central Committee, with representatives from 17 Mennonite bodies, is a cooperative relief and service agency dedicated to advancing the cause of peace and alleviating human suffering throughout the world.

Mennonites are divided into a number of separate bodies, some of them more conservative and withdrawn from modern society than others; but they hold in common the ideal of a religious community based on New Testament models and imbued with the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. Most of the principal tenets of the Mennonites are found in a confession of faith promulgated at Dordrecht, the Netherlands, in 1632. The Bible as interpreted by the individual conscience is regarded as the sole authority on doctrinal matters, and no powers of mediation between an individual and God are conceded to the ministry. Baptism is administered only on the profession of faith; infant baptism is rejected. The Lord's Supper (see Eucharist) is celebrated, although not as a sacrament, and the rite of foot washing is sometimes observed. Mennonites were among the first to espouse the principle of separation of church and state and to condemn slavery. They have traditionally obeyed the civil laws, but many refuse to bear arms or to support violence in any form (see Pacifism), to take judicial oaths, and to hold public office. The more conservative Mennonite groups are distinguished by plain living and simplicity of dress.

Church of the Brethren
It is of German Pietistic-Anabaptist background and shares many Baptist characteristics. Members of the church are known also as Dunkers (from German tunken,”to dip”), because of their baptismal ceremony. During this ceremony the believer is dipped three times, face forward, once at the mention of each name of the Trinity, according to the baptismal formula in Matthew 28:19.
The Dunker movement was an offshoot of the German Pietist movement of the late 17th century. The first Dunker congregation was organized at Schwartzenau, Germany (now in North Rhine-Westphalia), in 1708. Persecuted by the state church in Germany, the Dunkers immigrated to America from 1719 to 1729. Their first church in the United States was organized in 1723. The Dunkers are most numerous in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, and North Dakota. Many of them are farmers. In recent years the denomination has expanded to include many prosperous city churches. The denomination supports a number of colleges, including Manchester College, at North Manchester, Indiana.
In doctrine the Brethren adhere to the New Testament and accept no creeds. They hold the Bible to be the inspired and infallible word of God and accept the New Testament as their only rule of faith and practice. They believe in the Trinity, in the divinity of Christ, in the Holy Spirit, and in future rewards and punishments. Faith, repentance, and baptism are held to be the conditions of salvation. In practice the Brethren closely follow the teachings of the Bible and observe the simplicity of the Apostolic church. At the basis of their belief is a commitment to peace. They enjoin plainness of dress, settle difficulties among themselves without civil law, affirm instead of taking oath, oppose secret societies, and advise against the use of tobacco and the manufacture, sale, and use of intoxicants. As early as 1782 the Brethren prohibited slavery and vehemently denounced the slave trade. A traditional ban on participation in politics has been relaxed somewhat in recent years.
The Eucharist is celebrated in the evening, after the serving of a simple common meal. Before this meal the ordinance of foot washing is observed, and afterward the members extend the right hand of fellowship and exchange the kiss of peace. Bishops (or elders), ministers, and deacons are elected by the congregations. Congregations are organized into state districts; both units elect delegates to the annual conference.

From 1881 to 1883 the church lost about 8,000 members by a division in its ranks; the split resulted in the secession of two parties, known as the Old-Order and Progressive Brethren. The former group objected to the attention the church was paying to educational, missionary, and Sunday school work, and the latter insisted that the church was too conservative. After several years of contention these parties withdrew from the parent church and formed separate organizations. The parent church is known today as the Church of the Brethren (Conservative Dunkers) and according to recent statistics has 172,115 members in 1,061 congregations.
The Progressive Brethren divided again in 1939. According to the latest available statistics, one group, the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio) has 13,500 members in 116 churches; the second group, the National Fellowship of Brethren churches, has 34,000 members in more than 275 churches. Another Dunker sect is composed of the Seventh Day Baptists (German).

Baptists, Protestant Christians who accept the basic tenets of the 16th-century Reformation (justification by faith, the authority of the Scriptures, and the priesthood of the believer) but have added other beliefs and practices, including baptism of believers by immersion only, the separation of church and state, and the autonomy of the local church. The Baptists are important for their emphasis on these and other beliefs and for their numbers. In the late 1990s there were about 43 million Baptists worldwide, with 162,000 churches.
The great majority of Baptists (about 33 million in the late 1990s) are distributed in 14 major denominations in the United States, where they make up two-fifths of the Protestant population. Other countries where Baptists are strong are, in descending order of total membership, India, Brazil, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire), South Korea, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Canada, Indonesia, Russia, and Romania. The largest number of Baptists are in North America (77 percent), followed by Asia (9 percent), Africa (8 percent), South America (3 percent), Europe (2 percent), and Central America and the Caribbean Islands (1 percent). Baptists espoused some of the religious convictions of the Anabaptists, although no established connection existed between the two groups. Organizationally, Baptists originated in the early 17th century in Holland and England, with John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, English separatists from the Anglican church, as leaders.
Baptists believe in a church composed only of regenerated or converted individuals—that is, persons who have had a personal experience of the Christian religion. The theological term is a gathered church: Individuals join voluntarily following repentance for sin and affirmation of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This is in contrast to a state church, in which all who are born within a given geographical territory and receive the sacraments become members automatically, or a church in which infants who are baptized are considered members. Baptists’ conviction regarding regenerate membership, even more than their belief in believers’ baptism by immersion, led to their early persecution.
The Baptist emphasis on believers’ baptism, by immersion rather than by sprinkling or affusion, implies sufficient maturity to make a religious decision and is a specific rejection of infant baptism. Baptists feel that infants have no comprehension of repentance and faith; consequently, they reserve the ordinance until a time of understanding (usually early teenage years and after), when joining the church will be by personal choice and therefore more meaningful. Furthermore, Baptists believe that no biblical precedent exists for the baptism of infants. The mode of immersion is employed because it most closely follows the example of Jesus when he was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and because it corresponds symbolically with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as well as with the Pauline symbolism of the “death” of the old, selfish nature and the “resurrection” of the new, unselfish individual. Baptists do not, however, consider baptism a sacrament through which special grace is received; rather, they view it as an ordinance whereby one makes public confession of a faith already received. In addition to the ordinance of baptism, Baptists also observe the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, or communion; many congregations do so on the first Sunday of each month. They interpret this as a memorial experience. See Eucharist.
The Bible, interpreted by the individual, is regarded as the ultimate religious authority in matters of faith and practice. This is in contrast to other possible authorities, such as tradition, reason, and human experience. Infrequently, Baptists have adopted creeds to give expression to their faith and to clarify their beliefs, but they have not elevated these to a place of authority equal or superior to that of the Scriptures. Individual biblical interpretation, in terms of theology, has resulted in a variety of Baptists.
Baptists follow the doctrine of separation of church and state, with a corollary emphasis on religious liberty. In both England and America, Baptists were among the forerunners protesting an established church or a union between church and state. This was based on the conviction that religion is a personal relationship between the human soul and God, a relationship with which no one may interfere. Early in the 17th century, as advocates of such religious liberty, the Baptists led in the founding (in what is now Rhode Island) of the first civil government in the world to be based on a separation of church and state (see Church and State). Although Baptists have opposed an official tie between the state and any religious organization, nevertheless they feel a responsibility to exert moral and spiritual influence on the state.
Baptists believe in the autonomy of the local church, which is the key unit in Baptist polity. The local church ordains and calls its own clergy and theoretically may dismiss its own clergy. No power—ecclesiastical or secular—may dictate to a local Baptist congregation. Voluntarily, however, most Baptist churches unite with other Baptist churches in associations, state conventions, national denominations, and the Baptist World Alliance for the purposes of fellowship, mutual assistance, and the support of common educational, evangelistic, and missionary goals. Baptists argue that the self-government of the local church preserves the spirit of democracy, encourages the participation of lay persons in the church, and permits a wide range of theological expression.
Baptists have never adopted a universal creed, although on occasion they have adopted confessions of faith (Philadelphia, 1742; New Hampshire, 1832). More frequently they have adhered to church covenants that are not doctrinally oriented but set forth general ethical standards by which Baptists are expected to live.
John Smyth and Thomas Helwys, English separatists of Congregational persuasion, founded the first Baptist church on Dutch soil at Amsterdam in 1609. Smyth eventually applied to join the Mennonites, and Helwys returned to an unfriendly England. There, in 1611 or 1612, he led a small group of Christians in establishing the first Baptist church on English soil, at Spitalfields, near London. As they grew in number, English Baptists came to be divided between General Baptists and Particular Baptists. The former, who were Arminians believed that the spiritual benefits of the death of Jesus applied potentially to all people; the latter believed, with the Calvinists, that those benefits applied only to the elect (see Predestination). Eventually these two groups united in the 19th century, when theological issues had changed and the need of an effective missionary advance helped to draw them more closely together. From their base in England, Baptists have grown to number nearly 1 million members in Europe.
It was in America, however, that Baptists experienced their greatest growth. Roger Williams, an English Puritan clergyman, founded the first Baptist church in America at Providence, Rhode Island, in 1639. About the same time, physician and minister John Clarke established a Baptist congregation at Newport, Rhode Island. Frequently the subject of bitter persecution, the denomination at first grew slowly, but Baptist growth accelerated in the 18th century, largely as a result of the movement known as the Awakening. Later in the same century, the Baptists ardently supported the American Revolution and thus became more popular. In the 19th century the Baptists, like most other Protestant denominations, split over the issue of slavery. This led to the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845. In 1907 the northern Baptists drew together their various educational and missionary societies to form the Northern Baptist Convention (now the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.). In the midst of their growth, the Baptists had a strong appeal for members of the black community, due in part to evangelistic outreach, informal preaching, emotional appeal, and autonomous polity. Today, seven-eighths of the black population in the United States that claims denominational affiliation belongs to either a Baptist or a Methodist church. In Canada, Baptist congregations were first formed about 1760, and the longest continuous history of a single Baptist church is claimed by a congregation organized in Horton, Nova Scotia, in 1765, now known as Wolfville United Baptist Church. About 0.5 percent of Canadians are Baptists, the largest number of which live in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Baptists historically have been ardent proponents of education; they are responsible for the founding of Bates, Colby, and Wake Forest colleges, as well as Brown, Temple, Bucknell, Colgate, Redlands, Baylor, and Furman universities.
The four largest Baptist denominations in the United States (according to their membership in 1999) were the Southern Baptist Convention (15.9 million); the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. (1.5 million); the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. Inc. (8.5 million); and the National Baptist Convention of America (3.1 million). The latter two are black Baptist groups. The remarkable growth of the Southern Baptist Convention (an increase in membership of more than 250 percent between 1940 and 1980) is accounted for in part by aggressive missionary and revivalistic outreach, zealous preaching, and, in the judgment of some, greater centralization of denominational machinery. The southern Baptists are more conservative in theology than their northern counterparts and more revivalistic in methodology. Northern and southern Baptists have also differed on racial and ecumenical matters. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the only major Protestant denomination not affiliated with the National Council of Churches or the World Council of Churches.
On social issues no single “Baptist” position exists, because of the Baptist belief in religious liberty and local church autonomy. Theologically, the issue of biblical inerrancy remains a concern of many southern Baptists. During the last decades of the 20th century, the leadership of the SBC became increasingly conservative. In response, a more moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) formed in 1991, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The CBF drew a number of congregations that had left the SBC and by 2000 had 1,800 affiliated churches. Among the issues that disturbed moderates was a declaration in 1998 by the SBC that wives should submit to their husbands and a decision in 2000 to ban women from serving as church pastors, even though Baptists ordain women. The SBC also strengthened its opposition to abortion and homosexuality at its annual meeting in 2000. Although some people criticized the SBC for its increasing rigidity on social issues, the SBC leadership emphasized that it was seeking only to uphold Baptist tradition and belief in the Bible against efforts by liberals to modernize the denomination.

Adventists, members of a number of related Protestant denominations that stress the doctrine of the imminent second coming of Christ. Adventism received its clearest definition and most earnest support under the leadership of an American Baptist preacher, William Miller. Miller and his followers, known initially as Millerites, proclaimed that the second coming would occur between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. The failure of this prediction was called the First disappointment, and many left the movement. Following this, a second date October 22, 1844 was set, and many Adventists disposed of their property in anticipation of the event. The movement was widely ridiculed after the day passed uneventfully. Thereafter many Adventists lost faith and returned to their former churches. Those remaining split into four main bodies, which exist            

By far the largest group is the Seventh-day Adventists, with 10 million members worldwide in the late 1990s. The church originated between 1844 and 1855 under the leadership of three American Millerites, Joseph Bates and James and Ellen White, but was not formally organized until 1863. Two tenets are prominent in the church's theology: belief in the visible, personal second coming of Christ at an early but indefinite date and the observance of Saturday as the Sabbath. Members accept the Bible as their sole religious authority, placing special trust in the literal interpretation of prophetic passages. They hold that grace alone is sufficient for salvation; they administer baptism by immersion and practice foot washing in connection with observance of the Lord's Supper.
Seventh-day Adventists expect the eventual destruction of the wicked and everlasting life for the just, including the living and the resurrected dead, at the second coming of Christ. In their social life, approved recreation replaces entertainments such as dancing and theatergoing. The denomination has a comprehensive program for youth. Holding that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, Seventh-day Adventists put great stress on health and avoid eating meat and using narcotics and stimulants. They maintain some 520 hospitals and clinics around the world. The denomination also conducts missionary, educational, and philanthropic programs supported by a voluntary system of tithing (contributing a tenth of one's income) and by freewill offerings. Church activists are maintained in all parts of the world, and denominational publications are printed in 272 languages and dialects. The church conducts one of the largest school systems of any Protestant denomination.
The Advent Christian Church, first known as the Advent Christian Association and then the Advent Christian Conference, began in 1854 to withdraw gradually from the American Millennial Association, primarily because of a growing dispute over the question of immortality. First organized in 1860 in Salem, Massachusetts, the Advent Christian Church preached a doctrine of “conditional immortality,” according to which the dead remain in an unconscious state until the resurrection, which would take place at the second coming after the millennium. The church observes the sacraments of baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper. Although organized into regional and central groups (the central group is the Advent Christian General Conference of America), each church governs itself independently. In the late 1990s the Advent Christian Church reported membership of 26,000 in the United States. The church supports missionary work in Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, India, and the Philippines; it founded Aurora College in Aurora, Illinois, the Berkshire Christian College in Lenox, Massachusetts, and two publishing houses. In 1964 the Life and Advent Union, founded in 1848, merged with the Advent Christian Church.
The Church of God (Abrahamic Faith) developed from several smaller groups of similar faith (some dating from 1800); some of them had organized in 1888 under the name Church of God in Christ Jesus. The churches, however, did not function as a unit until 1921, when a national conference was established and the name Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith was adopted. The corporate name is Church of God General Conference (Oregon, Illinois). Acceptance of the Bible as the supreme standard of the faith results in a literal interpretation of the biblical references to the kingdom of God; the pre-millennial coming of Christ, the belief that the return of Christ will precede the millennial kingdom of God predicted in Revelation 20:1-6, is central. The members maintain that the dead are merely asleep; at the time of the second coming the righteous will be resurrected on earth and the wicked will be finally destroyed. Acceptance of these doctrines, repentance, and purification through baptism by immersion are requirements for admission to the church. The individual churches are autonomous; about 5,000 members were reported in the late 1990s. Missionary work is carried on in India, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Church of God in Christ
Church of God in Christ, Protestant, Holiness denomination organized by two Baptists, C. P. Jones and C. H. Mason, in Arkansas in 1895 and incorporated in 1897. It is one of the Pentecostal churches. Like other Holiness and Pentecostal groups, the church places strong emphasis on sanctification, or holiness, which is deemed essential to salvation. The theology of the church is Trinitarian; the Bible is held as the chief religious authority and is interpreted literally. Ordinances include baptism by immersion, the Lord's Supper, and foot washing. Speaking in tongues (Glossolalia) is considered the sign of baptism by the Holy Ghost Church structure is highly organized around a series of boards and commissions; a national convocation meets annually. Membership is more than 5.5 million in the United States, with an additional 1.5 million members abroad; headquarters is in Memphis, Tennessee.
Holiness Churches
Holiness Churches, fundamentalist Protestant bodies that developed from Methodism and hold as their distinguishing feature the doctrine that holiness, or sanctification of the individual, occurs by a second act of grace that follows justification and is supplementary to it. The experience of holiness is also referred to as the second blessing. The National Holiness Movement came into being shortly after the American Civil War. Originally a protest movement within Methodism, it opposed the Methodist falling away from the emphasis on sanctification that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had developed. He had stressed original sin and justification by faith and added that the individual may be assured of forgiveness by a direct experience of the spirit, called sanctification, which he regarded as the step leading to Christian perfection.
Although the main body of the Holiness movement holds that sanctification is a second work of grace, some groups of the Pentecostal movement, an outgrowth of the Holiness churches, maintain that sanctification is essentially the dedication of the believer that begins with regeneration. Moreover, sanctification must be evidenced by the occurrence of certain spiritual phenomena, such as glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. The major representatives of the Holiness movement (excluding Pentecostal denominations) are the Church of the Nazarene and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). The latter originated about 1880 as a movement within existing churches to promote Christian unity. The founders were interested in relieving the church at large of what they believed was over-ecclesiasticism and restrictive organization and in reaffirming the New Testament as the true standard of faith and life. In addition to the holiness principle, they believe in, among other doctrines, the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, forgiveness of sin through the death of Christ and the repentance of the sinner, a non-millennial concept of the return of Christ, and external reward or punishment as a result of the final judgment.
In the late 1990s the Church of God had 234,000 members in the United States and the Church of the Nazarene reported 627,000 members. There are about 25 other Holiness denominations, among them the rapidly growing Christian and Missionary Alliance with 346,000 U.S. members in the late 1990s.
Church of the Nazarene
Church of the Nazarene, Protestant denomination created by the merger of three independent holiness sects (see Holiness Churches), and organized in its present form at Pilot Point, Texas, in 1908. The denomination's principal governing body is a general assembly, which meets quadrennially. The international headquarters of the church is in Kansas City, Missouri.
Members of the church adhere particularly to those articles of faith espoused by the British leader John Wesley. Their chief doctrine is that of entire sanctification, or Christian perfection (see Methodism). Other tenets include the Second Advent of Christ Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, and the Last Judgment. The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper (see Eucharist) are recognized. The Bible is revered as the sole religious guide.
The original Church of the Nazarene was founded in Los Angeles in 1895. Its merger with an eastern holiness sect, the Association of Pentecostal Churches in America, in Chicago (1907), resulted in the formation of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. In 1908, at Pilot Point, the Holiness Church of Christ, a southern group, joined the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene to give the denomination substantially its present form. The name of the denomination was changed to Church of the Nazarene in 1919.
Friends, Society of
Friends, Society of (in full Religious Society of Friends), designation of a body of Christians more commonly known as Quakers. Their fundamental belief is that divine revelation is immediate and individual; all persons may perceive the word of God in their soul, and Friends endeavor to heed it. Terming such revelation the “inward light,” the “Christ within,” or the “inner light,” the first Friends identified this spirit with the Christ of history. They rejected a formal creed, worshiped on the basis of silence, and regarded every participant as a potential vessel for the word of God, instead of relying upon a special, paid clergy set apart from the rest.
Quakerism emphasizes human goodness because of a belief that something of God exists in everyone. At the same time, however, it recognizes the presence of human evil and works to eradicate as much of it as possible. Quakerism is a way of life; Friends place great emphasis upon living in accord with Christian principles. Truth and sincerity are Quaker bywords; thus, Quaker merchants refuse to bargain, for bargaining implies that truth is flexible. Emulating Christ, the Friends attempt to avoid luxury and emphasize simplicity in dress, manners, and speech. Until late in the 19th century, they retained certain forms of speech known as plain speech, which employed “thee” as opposed to the more formal “you”; this usage indicated the leveling of social classes and the spirit of fellowship integral to Quaker teaching.  In the administration and privileges of the society, no distinction between the sexes is made. Membership qualifications are based on moral and religious grounds and on the readiness of the candidate to realize and accept the obligations of membership. Meetings for worship are held regularly, usually once or twice a week, and are intended to help members to feel God's presence as a guiding spirit in their lives. In these meetings the members measure their insights and beliefs against those of the meeting as a whole. Because the religion of the Quakers was founded as a completely spiritual belief requiring no physical manifestation, the meetings have traditionally had no prearranged program, sermon, liturgy, or outward rites. Today, however, more than half of the Friends in the U.S. use paid ministers and conduct meetings for worship in a programmed or semi programmed manner. In both the un-programmed and programmed meetings members accept a great deal of responsibility. A group called Worship and Ministry, or Ministry and Oversight, accepts considerable responsibility for the spiritual life of the meeting. Overseers undertake to provide pastoral care for the member or share in that care when a regular pastor is employed. The religious discipline and administration of the society are regulated by periodic meetings known as Meetings for Business. One or more congregations constitute a Monthly Meeting, one or more Monthly Meetings form a Quarterly Meeting, and the Quarterly Meetings within a stated geographical area form a Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The decisions of the Yearly Meeting are the highest authority for all doctrinal or administrative questions raised in any subsidiary meeting within its jurisdiction. Usually no voting takes place in Quaker meetings; members seek to discover the will of God by deliberation concerning any matter at hand. As an integral part of Quaker doctrine, at meetings members are regularly and formally queried on their adherence to Quaker principles. These queries relate to such matters as the proper education of their children, the use of intoxicants, care of the needy, and, on a broader scale, racial and religious toleration and the treatment of all offenders in a spirit of love rather than with the object of punishment. Most American groups of Friends are represented by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), founded in 1917. Originally established to handle many of their philanthropic activities, the organization today is primarily concerned with creating a society in which violence need not exist.
The Society of Friends may be traced to the many Protestant bodies that appeared in Europe during the Reformation. These groups, stressing an individual approach to religion, strict discipline, and the rejection of an authoritarian church, formed one expression of the religious temper of 17th-century England. Many doctrines of the Society of Friends were taken from those of earlier religious groups, particularly those of the Anabaptists and Independents, who believed in lay leadership, independent congregations, and complete separation of church and state. The society, however, unlike many of its predecessors, did not begin as a formal religious organization. Originally, the Friends were the followers of George Fox, an English lay preacher who, about 1647, began to preach the doctrine of “Christ within”; this concept later developed as the idea of the “inner light.” Although Fox did not intend to establish a separate religious body, his followers soon began to group together into the semblance of an organization, calling themselves by such names as Children of Light, Friends of Truth, and, eventually, Society of Friends. In reference to their agitated movements before moments of divine revelation, they were popularly called Quakers. The first complete exposition of the doctrine of “inner light” was written by the Scottish Quaker Robert Barclay in An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, as the Same Is Held Forth and Preached by the People Called in Scorn Quakers (1678), considered the greatest Quaker theological work.
The Friends were persecuted from the time of their inception as a group. They interpreted the words of Christ in the Scriptures literally, particularly, “Do not swear at all” (Matthew 5:34), and “Do not resist one who is evil” (Matthew 5:39). They refused, therefore, to take oaths; they preached against war, even to resist attack; and they often found it necessary to oppose the authority of church or state. Because they rejected any organized church, they would not pay tithes to the Church of England. Moreover, they met publicly for worship, a contravention of the Conventicle Act of 1664, which forbade meetings for worship other than that of the Church of England. Nevertheless, thousands of people, some on the continent of Europe and in America as well as in the British Isles, were attracted by teachings of the Friends. Friends began to immigrate to the American colonies in the 1660s. They settled particularly in New Jersey, where they purchased land in 1674, and in the Pennsylvania colony, which was granted to William Penn in 1681. By 1684, approximately 7,000 Friends had settled in Pennsylvania. By the early 18th century, Quaker meetings were being held in every colony except Connecticut and South Carolina. The Quakers were at first continuously persecuted, especially in Massachusetts, but not in Rhode Island, which had been founded in a spirit of religious toleration. Later, they became prominent in colonial life, particularly in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. During the 18th century the American Friends were pioneers in social reform; they were friends of the Native Americans, and as early as 1688 some protested officially against slavery in the colonies. By 1787 no member of the society was a slave owner. Many of the Quakers who had immigrated to southern colonies joined the westward migrations into the Northwest Territory because they would not live in a slave-owning society.
During the 19th century differences of opinion arose among the Friends over doctrine. About 1827, the American Quaker minister Elias Hicks became involved in a schism by questioning the authenticity and divine authority of the Bible and the historical Christ; many Friends seceded with Hicks and were known as Hicksites. This schism alarmed the rest of the society, who became known as Orthodox Friends, and a countermovement was begun to relax the formality and discipline of the society, with a view to making Quakerism more evangelical. The evangelical movement, led by the British Quaker philanthropist Joseph John Gurney, aroused considerable opposition, particularly in the U.S., and another schism resulted among the Orthodox Friends. A new sect, the orthodox conservative Friends, called Wilburites after their leader John Wilbur, was founded to emphasize the strict Quakerism of the 17th century. It is very small today. The general result of these modifications, both those dealing with doctrine and those pertaining to the relations of Quakers to the world in general, was a new spirit among all the Friends. Most abandoned their strange dress and speech and their hostility to such worldly pursuits as the arts and literature.
Numerically, the Friends have always been a relatively small group. In the late 1990s world membership totaled 300,000, distributed in more than 30 countries. The greatest number of Friends is in the United States, where, according to the latest available statistics, the society had 1,100 congregations with about 108,000 members. The Yearly Meetings in Africa, with 43,000 members, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with 18,000 members, are the next largest groups. Other groups are located in Central America, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The Friends World Committee for Consultation is the international organization of the society.
Free Church of Scotland
Free Church of Scotland, name commonly applied to the church established by a group of about 450 ministers who seceded from the Church of Scotland in 1843, thereby effecting a schism that came to be known as the Disruption. The basic issue in the split was the jurisdiction of the civil powers over the doctrines, discipline, and government of the church; it was brought to a head in 1838 by a decision of the civil courts that forbade any congregation to reject a pastor who had been appointed to serve it. This decision was upheld by the House of Commons in March 1843. Known as nonintrusionists, the ministers who opposed acceptance of this decision were led by Thomas Chalmers. At the meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, held in May 1843, they declared their intention of separating from the church and immediately establishing a new one. They then withdrew and organized the first Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, of which Chalmers was elected moderator, or presiding officer.
Except for its independent attitude toward the civil authorities and its voluntary renunciation of all claim to the parent church's properties and benefices, the seceding group retained all the doctrines and practices of the Church of Scotland. The Free Church received such active and financial support from its adherents, who included about one-third of the former members of the Church of Scotland, that by the end of 1847 more than 700 churches had been erected, and the New College had been built in Edinburgh as an institution for theological studies. Similar institutions were later established in Aberdeen and Glasgow.
Between 1863 and 1873 unsuccessful efforts were made to create a union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church; such a union was finally brought about in 1900; the new church was known as the United Free Church of Scotland. A small group within the Free Church refused to participate in the union and declared itself the true Free Church. In October 1929 the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland were reunited, under the latter name.
Evangelical United Brethren Church
Evangelical United Brethren Church, American Protestant denomination formed in 1946 by merger of the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. The larger body then merged in 1968 with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church. The Evangelical Church was founded in 1803 by Jacob Albright in eastern Pennsylvania; its German-speaking members were known as Albrights and somewhat later as the Newly-Formed Methodist Conference. The name Evangelische Gemeinschaft (Evangelical Association) was made official, and the association adopted a discipline similar to, but more democratic than, that of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The use of the German language continued well into the 19th century. A division arose on a doctrinal question, and in 1894 a minority segment broke away, establishing a separate denomination, the United Evangelical church, which in 1922 was reunited with the Evangelical Association to form the Evangelical Church. The denomination was notably interested in the ecumenical movement and maintained membership in the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States and in the World Council of Churches. A smaller denomination, since 1928 called the Evangelical Congregational Church, did not join in the reunion of 1922. In the late 1990s the church reported membership of about 23,000 in 148 churches.
Before the union with the Methodist Church, the Evangelical United Brethren Church had 732,377 members in 3,970 congregations. The Evangelical Church of North America, formed by churches in the Pacific Northwest who refused to enter the new denomination, has about 150 churches and 3,300 members.
United Church of Christ
A Protestant denomination organized in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1957 as the result of the union of the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches (see Congregationalism) and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. It constitutes the first major union in American Protestantism of denominations that have largely differing historical-cultural backgrounds and have mixed forms of ecclesiastical relationships. It began operation under its newly adopted constitution in July 1961.
Local congregations determine the creed professed by their members, and a wide latitude of interpretation is accepted. A biennial meeting of the General Synod makes recommendations to local churches, acting in its own name, but it does not legislate for the churches.
The denomination supports missions, orphanages, homes for the aged, hospitals, and educational institutions that were sponsored formerly by the uniting denominations. For example, the congregationalists established Harvard and Yale universities and Williams, Oberlin, and Bowdoin colleges; the Evangelical and Reformed church, Franklin and Marshall, Heidelberg, Hood, Cedar Crest, and Ursinus colleges.
In the late 1990s the United Church of Christ had 1.4 million members in 6,020 churches. It is a member of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America and of the World Council of Churches.

Unitarianism, religious movement that affirms the undivided unity of God, as opposed to the Trinity, and the humanity of Jesus, rather than his divinity. The religion emphasizes personal responsibility and reliance on conscience and reason rather than on doctrine or external authority. Unitarianism traces its roots to Judaism and Christianity.
At the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, protestants all over Europe began questioning many doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, including the doctrine of the Trinity. According to this doctrine, God exists in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who are united in one being. However, only Poland and the principality of Transylvania tolerated Unitarian belief—that is, belief that God is one person.
Unitarian refugees, primarily from Italy, found they were welcomed in Poland, and from 1548 to 1574 they were able to form a separate church, which flourished until the mid-17th century. In Transylvania the preacher to King John Sigismund, who ruled from 1540 to 1571, converted to Unitarianism because he could find no basis in the Bible for the doctrine of the Trinity. Elsewhere in Europe Unitarians were regarded as heretics for claiming there was no basis for the worship of Jesus Christ and preaching that people should follow his teachings rather than worship him as divine. In England, in 1548, a priest named John Ashton was accused of Arianism—in effect, of denying the equal divinity of the three persons of the Trinity. Ashton escaped death only by recantation; during the next half-century a few others suffered martyrdom on similar charges. Socinianism, named for the Italian Polish Unitarian leader, Fausto Socinus exercised considerable influence in England during the reign of King James I (1603-1625). Thereafter, the Unitarians (with the exception of a society formed in London by John Biddle, which did not survive its founder) had no organized existence. The Toleration Act, passed in 1689, failed to grant religious rights to Unitarians. The first Unitarian congregation in England, the Essex Street Chapel, was founded in London in 1774 by Theophilus Lindsey, a former Anglican clergyman. Later Unitarian leaders in England included Joseph Priestley and James Martineau. In 1813 the Unitarians were legally classed in England with other dissenters—groups that dissented from the national church, the Church of England—thereby gaining certain rights.
In the United States Unitarianism grew out of a split among the Congregationalist clergy in New England. The more liberal branch of the clergy reacted against the Calvinist doctrines of unconditional predestination and original sin. These doctrines dominated American Protestantism, especially during the Awakening, a religious revival that swept the New England colonies in the 1740s. Congregationalist clergyman Charles Chauncy condemned the emotionalism of the Awakening and argued against predestination and original sin. Chauncy’s belief—and the beliefs of others—in free will and in God’s benevolence toward those who lead righteous lives paved the way for Unitarianism.
In 1796 King’s Chapel in Boston officially adopted Unitarianism and left the Episcopal Church. By imperceptible degrees many of the New England churches became Unitarian, but not until 1815 did the name begin to be much used. In 1819 Congregational minister William Ellery Channing delivered a sermon titled “Unitarian Christianity” that formulated the basic principles of Unitarianism. In the early decades of the 19th century, 120 Congregational churches in New England adopted Unitarian principles. Most important in shaping American Unitarianism during the 19th century was the transcendentalist movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, and other transcendentalists influenced the direction of Unitarianism toward social issues by vigorously championing the abolition of slavery and other social reforms.
The American Unitarian Association was formed in 1825; a national conference was added in 1865. Local churches retained their independence, in accordance with Congregational polity. In 1961 the association joined with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association, with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. See Universalism.
Unitarians regard their religion as a liberal one that does not adhere to conformity of doctrine. Rather than relying on doctrine or scripture or subscribing to a creed, they regard individual conscience, personal experience, and reason as the foundations of religious belief. They stress religious tolerance, the goodness of humanity, and the interconnected web of life. In addition Unitarians believe that revelation is continuous and that religious wisdom is ever changing. In a desire to act as a moral force, Unitarians have allied themselves with liberal social and ethical causes.

Presbyterianism, a form of church government and a particular theological tradition found in the Presbyterian and Reformed denominations. The churches in this tradition constitute one of the four major groups that issued from the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century—Lutheran, Anabaptist, Anglican, and Presbyterian and Reformed.
The term Presbyterian is from the Greek presbyteros (“elder”), and church government by elders characterizes the organization of Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Both clergy and laity may be elders, and in most Presbyterian churches today, both men and women are elders.
Presbyterian church government is often called a “mixed” system of democratic and hierarchical elements, because the power is balanced between clergy and laity and between congregations and larger governing bodies of the church. Although the structure of Presbyterian church government varies, it usually consists of ascending church bodies, or courts. Each congregation is governed by a ruling body called a session, or consistory, composed of the pastor and the elders, who are elected representatives of the congregation. Congregations belong to a presbytery, or classis, which coordinates and governs the activities of congregations within a particular geographic area. The members of a presbytery include all the pastors and elected representative elders from each of the congregations.
The power to ordain ministers lies in the presbytery, in contrast to episcopal forms of church government, in which this is done by a bishop, and congregational church government, in which the congregation retains the power of ordination. In a larger sense, the presbytery serves as a communal bishop, exercising both pastoral and judicial responsibilities for its churches.
Presbyteries belong to synods, which are larger geographic units of the church, and a general assembly, or general synod, unites the entire church. At these levels as well, the church is governed by its elders—clergy and laity elected as representatives of the people.
The roots of Presbyterianism can be traced to the theology of John Calvin, the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Geneva (see Calvinism). Calvin sought to establish a church government based on the concept of the office of elder, but Calvin and the early reformers did not finally insist on presbyterianism as the only form of church government sanctioned by the Bible. This has allowed some variation in the forms of Calvinist government and the potential for toleration of other ecclesiastical polities. For example, many Congregational and Baptist churches consider themselves Calvinist in theology but do not have a presbyterian form of church government.
From its earliest days, the Reformed tradition was the most international of all branches of Protestantism. It quickly spread from Geneva through France, Germany, and Holland, the British Isles, and North America. When Calvinists organized churches with a presbyterian form of government on the European continent, they called them Reformed; in the British Isles and North America, these churches were known as Presbyterian.
Until the 19th century, Presbyterianism's greatest strength was in Britain, Holland, and North America, but with the rapid expansion of missionary activity after 1800, Presbyterian or Reformed churches were established on every continent. Currently, English-speaking members of the Presbyterian and Reformed churches are a minority, and Presbyterian and Reformed churches can be found in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere.
A- Theology
Although the theology of Presbyterianism is characterized by diversity today, Calvin's theology serves as a central source. His most important and influential work is Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536), which he revised throughout his life. The last edition (1559) has been the most widely used.
Like the German religious reformer Martin Luther, Calvin emphasized the two central doctrines of the Protestant Reformation: the authority of Scripture and justification by grace through faith. Also, like Luther, Calvin reduced the number of Christian sacraments to two—baptism of both infants and adults, and the Lord's Supper (Eucharist). Calvin differed from Luther and other Protestant reformers in his understanding of the nature of the Lord's Supper, church government, and the role of the law in Christian life. His theology is characterized by its reliance on the Bible as interpreted through the aid of the Holy Spirit and by his stress on the sovereignty of God and the inability of people to achieve salvation through their own works and that humans have a defined predestination.
B- Confessions
Although Presbyterian and Reformed churches regard the Bible as the supreme authority for the church and the individual believer, they are also known as “confessional” churches because of their effort to write confessions that define and guide the theology and practice of the church. Many Reformed confessions have been written in different countries at different times, from the 16th to the 20th century. The most important early confessions were the First Helvetic Confession (1536), the Scots Confession (1560), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Canons of the Synod of Dort (1619), and the Westminster Confession and Shorter Catechism (1647). Two examples of recent confessional statements are the Theological Declaration of Barmen, issued by the German Evangelical Church in 1934, and the Confession of 1967, adopted by the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The most influential of all these confessions, particularly for Anglo-American Presbyterian churches, has been the Westminster Confession.
C- Forms of Worship
Presbyterian worship has always allowed for considerable flexibility in forms and practices, but it is based on Calvin's definition of the essential characteristics of the church being the faithful proclamation of the gospel and the celebration of the sacraments. In the United States, the influence of Puritanism and revivalism contributed to a growing emphasis on the sermon as the center of worship; liturgy was practically absent, and the Lord's Supper was celebrated only occasionally. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, a renewal of the Reformed understanding of worship and the ecumenical movement brought greater richness to Presbyterian worship. The sermon is still important, but services are also characterized by a greater use of liturgy and a more regular celebration of the Lord's Supper.
D- Ecumenism
The churches in the Presbyterian tradition have usually been organized according to national boundaries, although within each country they have often suffered divisions. As a group, however, they have been known for their ecumenical spirit. They are associated within their own tradition in the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and they provided leadership in the founding of the World Council of Churches. In the United States they cooperate with other denominations in the work of the National Council of Churches and the Consultation on Church Union. Similar ecumenism within Presbyterianism has been shown in the establishment of the United Church of Canada, the Church of South India, and united churches in other countries.
E- Presbyterianism in the United States
Presbyterian churches in the United States draw their members from many different ethnic groups, but their early history was heavily influenced by English and Scotch and Irish Presbyterians. The First American Presbyterian churches were founded by English colonists on Long Island, New York, and in New England during the 1640s; a later wave of Scottish and Scotch-Irish immigrants established churches as they settled along the eastern shore of Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware, as well as in the middle colonies of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Some interpreters point to an English current in American Presbyterianism emphasizing piety, experience, and experimentation, and a Scotch-Irish influence of rationalism, order, and clearly defined authority. These two impulses have characterized much of American Presbyterian history. Francis Makemie, a Scots-Irish Presbyterian minister who came to the colonies in 1683, is generally considered the father of American Presbyterianism. Under his leadership, the first presbytery was organized in 1706. The first synod was established in 1716, and the first general assembly met in 1789.
Four major divisions have occurred in American Presbyterianism. The first arose during the 1740s over the revivalism of the first Awakening; the second occurred during the 1830s due to slavery, theological issues, and the conduct of missionary work; the third took place in 1861 because of the American Civil War; and the fourth was during the 1920s and 1930s at the peak of the controversy between Fundamentalism and modernism. The division that occurred during the Civil War produced the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (2.5 million members in 1980), popularly known as the “northern” Presbyterian church, and the Presbyterian Church in the United States (860,000 members in 1980), commonly called the “southern” Presbyterians. In 1983 these two bodies were formally reunited as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); it had nearly 3.6 million members in the late 1990s. Other Presbyterian churches include the Presbyterian Church in America, merged in 1982 with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod; the Associate Presbyterian Church of North America; the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church; the Bible Presbyterian Church; the Cumberland Presbyterian Church; the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the United States; the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; the Reformed Presbyterian Church; the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America; and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
The American Reformed churches with presbyterian government are the Reformed Church in America, the Christian Reformed Church, the Hungarian Reformed Church in America, the Netherlands Reformed Congregations, the Protestant Reformed Churches of America, and the Reformed Church in the United States.
Presbyterians in the United States have had an impact on many areas of society. In politics they have been inspired by Calvin's affirmation of law as a potential structure of God's grace and by the doctrines of election and vocation as theological bases for participation in political affairs. Presbyterian clergy and laity were nearly unanimous in supporting the American Revolution, and John Witherspoon, the Presbyterian president of what later became Princeton University, was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. Calvinist ideas are also credited with playing a role in shaping the American political structure, with its system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and constitutional limits to authority.
In education, Presbyterians have traditionally emphasized the need for a highly trained clergy and a literate laity who can understand the Bible. Presbyterians were instrumental in founding Princeton University in 1746, and the first Presbyterian seminary was established in Princeton in 1812. They were also instrumental in establishing scores of other educational institutions. Education has been a strong component of Presbyterian missionary work, along with medical aid and economic development.

Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church, Christian denomination, organized in Philadelphia in 1789. The Episcopal Church derives its orders (ministry), doctrine, liturgy, and traditions from the Church of England, with which it is in communion (see Anglican Communion). In the mid-1990s the Episcopal Church reported 2.4 million members and about 7,400 separate congregations in the United States.
Both Roman Catholic and evangelical traditions are represented in practices of the Episcopal Church. The doctrinal position of the church is, with certain modifications, the same as that of the Church of England. The Bible, interpreted in accordance with the findings of modern biblical scholarship, is the sole criterion in matters of dogma. The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are accepted as statements of faith. Similarly, the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are held to be of historic interest, but not essential expositions of doctrine. Unlike the Church of England, the Episcopal Church does not use the Athanasian Creed.
Like the Church of England, however, it believes only two sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist, were ordained by Christ; the other five sacraments, although honored, are not universally accepted as divinely instituted in the New Testament. The church as a whole accepts the standards of worship set forth in the revised Book of Common Prayer, but the separate congregations are permitted wide latitude in the observance of ceremonial. The church supports many religious orders of men and women.
The government of the Episcopal Church is democratic. Groups of parishes form dioceses, which may bear city, state, or regional names. The supreme policymaking body is a triennial general convention, consisting of a house of bishops and a house of deputies. Bishops and deputies, the latter including both laity and clergy, are elected by diocesan conventions to which the constituent parishes of each diocese send lay and clerical representatives.
The orders of ministry in the Episcopal Church are deacons, priests, and bishops. All members of the church recognize the apostolic origin of the episcopate, but they do not necessarily accept the claim that the episcopate in its present form is identical in function with that found in the New Testament.
As a member of the Anglican Communion, the denomination participates, through its bishops, in the decennial Lambeth Conferences held in London. It is a member of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America and of the World Council of Churches.
The educational, missionary, and welfare activities of the Episcopal Church are administered by a presiding bishop, who is elected by the house of bishops, and by an executive council, the members of which are elected by the general convention and by units under the executive council. Headquarters of the presiding bishop and executive council is in New York City.
Besides supporting home missions, the church maintains missionaries in the territories of the United States and in many parts of Africa, Asia, and South America. The benevolent work of the denomination includes the operation and support of numerous orphanages, homes, hospitals, and other welfare institutions and the relief and resettlement of victims of war and natural disasters. Many educational institutions, including secondary schools, were founded under the auspices of the Episcopal Church. Several unofficial periodicals are published for Episcopalians; among them are the monthly newspaper, Episcopal Life, The Witness, and The Living Church.
The Anglican tradition was brought to America by the settlers of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Throughout the colonial period the Church of England remained weak in New England, but strong in New York and Pennsylvania. In the South, where it was the preferred church of the ruling group, it was not numerically strong; however, most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence belonged to it. The majority of its clergy in New York favored Great Britain during the American Revolution, but the loyalty to the colonies of such men as Samuel Provoost, bishop of New York, secured for the church the vast holdings left to it by Queen Anne. (The enormous wealth of Trinity Church in New York City has been used to found, build, or endow more than 1,500 institutions.)
When political independence was achieved, the ties that had bound the Anglican congregations to the Church of England were severed. In order to survive, the church needed a national organization and a native episcopate. These ends were not easily attained, for divergent views on lay representation in church government divided the congregations, and English law required bishops consecrated by Church of England prelates to swear allegiance to the British crown. In September 1785 a convention of delegates from the various Anglican congregations, most of which had adopted by this time the name Protestant Episcopal (an adaptation of the 17th-century Maryland phrase Protestant Catholic), petitioned the archbishop of Canterbury to obtain parliamentary permission to consecrate American bishops. This permission was finally granted, and on February 4, 1787, bishops of the Church of England consecrated Provoost the first Episcopal bishop of New York, and William White the first of Pennsylvania. At the same time, a noted clergyman from Connecticut, Samuel Seabury, had accepted consecration from nonjuring bishops of Scotland (1784), thus becoming the first bishop of Connecticut. Although the method of his consecration was at first a cause of friction with church leaders outside Connecticut, Seabury was eventually recognized as the first Episcopal bishop in the United States.
In 1789 all the congregations sent delegates to the first general convention, which was held in Philadelphia. At this convention the Episcopal Church was formally organized as an independent denomination but with the explicit statement that the new church did not intend to depart “in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship” from the Church of England. The convention also ratified a constitution and adopted, with minor variations, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. In 1801 the church approved a version of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion modified to conform with the political changes in the new nation.
The Oxford movement, which began in Great Britain in 1833, had a strong impact on the Episcopal Church in the 1840s. As in the Church of England, the movement resulted in the formation of a High Church party favoring Roman Catholic traditions and elaborate ceremonial, as opposed to a Low Church party leaning toward evangelical traditions and a minimum of ceremonial. On slavery, the greatest political and moral issue of the century, the Episcopal Church maintained an official position of neutrality, thus avoiding a permanent schism. In the 1870s the movement known as ritualism, which grew out of the earlier Oxford movement, gave rise to bitter differences of opinion among Episcopal congregations. The movement resulted in 1873 in the organization of an independent denomination, the Reformed Episcopal Church. A later movement, known as Modernism, influenced the formation of a strong party that favored a broad, or liberal, interpretation of the Bible in opposition to the literalism of Fundamentalists.
The Episcopal Church has been a vigorous proponent of ecumenism, and it has joined with other Protestant denominations in an attempt to achieve a more unified Christian church. It has proposed that any reunified church be based on the following: (1) the Holy Scriptures; (2) the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds; (3) the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist; and (4) the historic episcopate. Its requirements have largely become the basis of all Christian discussion on church union (Ecumenical Movement). Recently, much interest has also been shown in closer relationships with non-Christian bodies. The admission of women to holy orders during the 1970s brought considerable division in the church, as did a totally unrelated matter: the adoption (1979) of a revised Book of Common Prayer. Divisions also emerged over social issues, including the church's position on various matters relating to human sexuality. During the same period, the church engaged in a serious reexamination of the nature of ministry and the place of the laity. The denomination's first woman bishop, Barbara C. Harris, was consecrated in 1989.


Puritanism, movement arising within the Church of England in the latter part of the 16th century that sought to purify, or reform, that church and establish a middle course between Roman Catholicism and the ideas of the Protestant reformers. It had a continuous life within the church until the Stuart Restoration (1660). Puritanism reached North America with the English settlers who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. It remained the dominant religious force in New England throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.
The term Puritanism is also used in a broader sense to refer to attitudes and values considered characteristic of the Puritans. Thus, the Separatists in the 16th century, the Quakers (see Friends, Society of) in the 17th century, and Nonconformists after the Restoration may be called Puritans, although they were no longer part of the established church. The founders of New England, for whom immigration to America constituted withdrawal from the mother church, are also commonly called Puritans.
Finally, the word puritanism has often been used as a term of abuse in a way that does scant justice to historical Puritanism—for instance, when a rigid moralism, the condemnation of innocent pleasure, or religious narrowness is stigmatized as puritanical. Even within the Church of England, a precise definition of Puritanism is elusive. The leading Puritan clergyman during the reign of Elizabeth I was Thomas Cartwright, who denied he was one. Cartwright advocated a presbyterian form of church government that gave control to committees of ministers and lay members. His purpose was to free the church from the control of bishops appointed by the monarchy, which was hostile to Puritanism. Puritanism, however, cannot be identified with presbyterianism because a major segment of the movement eventually adopted congregationalism, in which there is no church hierarchy and each individual congregation is self-governing. The essence of Puritanism is an intense commitment to a morality, a form of worship, and a civil society strictly conforming to God's commandments.
Puritan theology was derived from Calvinism. It asserts the basic sinfulness of humankind; but it also declares that by an eternal decree God has determined that some will be saved through the righteousness of Christ despite their sins. No one can be certain in this life what his or her eternal destiny will be. Nevertheless, the experience of conversion, in which the soul is touched by the Holy Spirit, so that the inward bias of the heart is turned from sinfulness to holiness, is at least some indication that one is of the elect. The experience of conversion was therefore central to Puritan spirituality. Much of Puritan preaching was concerned with it. This concern was evident in questions such as how conversion comes about—whether in a blinding flash as with Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, or following well-defined stages of preparation; how one can distinguish actual conversion from the counterfeit; and why not everyone will be converted. Puritan spiritual life stressed self-discipline and introspection, through which one sought to determine whether particular spiritual strivings were genuine marks of sainthood. Although full assurance might never be attained, the conviction of having been chosen by God fortified the Puritans to contend with what they regarded as wantonness in society and faithfulness in the church, and to endure the hardships involved in trying to create a Christian commonwealth in America.
Puritanism was not static and unchanging. At first it simply stood for further reform of worship, but soon it began to attack episcopacy—church government by bishops, as in the Church of England—as unscriptural. At times the difference between the Puritans and the Anglicans (members of the Church of England) seems to have been as much a matter of differing cultural values as one of differing theological opinions. For example, their Sabbatarianism (insistence on strict observance of the Sabbath) came into conflict with a defense of sports and games on Sunday by King James I. Puritanism became a political as well as a religious movement during the English Revolution (1640-1660, also called the Puritan Revolution), when Parliament rebelled against the despotism of Stuart king Charles I. This rebellion gave the Puritans a chance to demand the abolition of bishops in the Church of England. Both in England during the Commonwealth (government established by Parliament, from 1649-1660) and in 17th-century New England, Puritanism meant the direction and control of civil authority. Puritanism was not a wholly cohesive movement. In the 1580s the Separatists were bitterly condemned by other Puritans. When the Westminster Assembly (1643) sought to define doctrine and polity, the differences between Presbyterians and Independents (congregationalists) were manifest. In the turbulence of the 1640s, a number of small sects appeared, emphasizing that part of Puritan doctrine that acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the believer to the neglect of that part that stands for social order and authority. With the restoration of the Stuart monarchs in 1660, many Puritans accepted the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and rule by bishops; others were forced into permanent nonconformity. Its influence has persisted, however.  When the Puritans failed in their efforts to reform the Church of England, a minority urged separatism—the establishment of separate independent congregations free of bishops. Some of these separatist groups immigrated to Holland. In 1620 one of the separatist congregations sailed for New England on the Mayflower. In New England the colonists established independent congregations, each congregation having the right to choose its own leaders and discipline its members. While church and state supported each other, neither one was allowed to interfere in the affairs of the other.
In America, Puritan moralism and its sense of an elect people in covenant with God deeply affected the national character. The Puritan belief that communities were formed by covenants produced America’s first democratic institution, the town meeting. At the town meeting every church member had the right to speak, and decisions were made by majority rule. The Puritan emphasis on simplicity of worship, its asceticism (austerity and self-denial), and its Sabbatarianism remained influential into the 20th century. The Puritan devotion to popular education, high standards of morality, and many, if not all, democratic principles had an important effect on American life.
Synod, council or assembly of churches or church officials.

• Synods in the structure of the church, see Bishop (ecclesiastic); Canon Law: Components; Consistory; Council; Episcopacy; Presbyterianism: Church Organization; Peter the Great: Reforms Under Peter
• Synods held on special topics, see Adoptionism; Adrian I; Council of Chalcedon; Councils of Constantinople: Fourth Council of Constantinople; Formosus; Origen
• Doctrines adopted at special synods, see Arminianism; Athanasian Creed; Augustinians; Canonization; Confession of Basel; Calvinism; Donatism; Roscelin; Transubstantiation
• Synod as a part of the structure of specific Christian denominations, see Anglican Church of Canada; Christian Reformed Church; Church of England: Doctrine; Church of Ireland; Church of Scotland: Formation of the Modern Church; Congregationalism: Congregationalism as a Generic Term; Eastern Rite Churches; Evangelical and Reformed Church; Evangelical Synod of North America; Huguenots: Introduction; Moravian Church; Orthodox Church: Structure and Organization; Reformed Church in America; Roman Catholic Church: The Pope; United Church of Christ
• participation of popes and other religious leaders at synods, see Benedict VIII; Saint Celestine I; Eugene III; Eusebius of Caesarea; Filaret; Saint Gregory VII: Papacy; Saint Hilary of Poitiers; Innocent XI; John Paul II; Saint Leo I; Saint Martin I; Paul VI; Saint Wilfrid


Calvinism, Christian theology of the French church reformer John Calvin. Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536-59; trans. 1561) was the most influential work in the development of the Protestant churches.  Calvinist doctrine lies within the Pauline and Augustinian theological tradition. Its central tenets include belief in the absolute sovereignty of God and the doctrine of justification by faith alone. As did the German religious reformer Martin Luther, Calvin denied that human beings were capable of free will after the Fall of Adam, but he went farther than Luther in elaborating a doctrine of predestination—that certain persons are elected by God to salvation, while others are rejected by him and consigned to eternal damnation. Calvin also shared Luther's belief in the Bible as the unique rule for the life of faith, but differed from his fellow reformer in defending the subjugation of the state to the church and in his interpretation of the Eucharist. Many of the tenets of Calvinism have had profound social implications—in particular, that thrift, industry, and hard work are forms of moral virtue and that business success is an evidence of God's grace. Because these views helped to create a climate favorable to commerce. By the early 17th century, Calvinism had been adopted by Protestant groups in many lands. The Synod of Dort (1618-19) in Holland fixed this form of belief as Dutch orthodoxy (see Arminianism). French Calvinists founded the Huguenot movement which was suppressed by the Roman Catholic church. In England, Puritanism developed and briefly achieved ascendancy during the period when the monarchy was suspended under Oliver Cromwell. The Westminster Confession (1646) represents the systematic expression of Puritan theology. It was adopted by the Church of Scotland in 1648 and has become the basic creed of Presbyterian groups in Britain. Many English Puritans, dissatisfied with the policies of the Church of England, immigrated to America during the colonial period. Settling in New England, they contributed greatly to shaping the religious character of the United States, especially through the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and other leaders during the Awakening.
Calvinism remains an important strain within Protestant thought. In the 20th century, the influential Swiss theologian Karl Barth placed great emphasis on the Calvinist doctrine of God's supremacy, beside which all human activity is seen as worthless.
Moravian Church

Moravian Church, Unitas Fratrum, American branch of the Renewed Church of the Unity of the Brethren, an evangelical Protestant denomination organized in Herrnhut, Saxony (Sachsen), in 1727 as a reconstitution of the 15th-century Bohemian Brethren; (See also Zinzendorf, Nikolaus Ludwig, Graf von). Members are called Moravian Brethren and Herrnhuters. The Moravian Church is governed by the conferential system; its ministry is composed of bishops, elders, and deacons. For administrative purposes, the church is divided into northern and southern provinces, which have headquarters at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, respectively. Provincial synods exercise legislative authority delegated to them by the component congregations. The two American provinces, together with the German and British branches of the Renewed Church of the Unity of the Brethren, are under the overall jurisdiction of a general synod, which meets every ten years.
The Moravian Church conducts missionary work among the Native Americans, the Inuit, and in many foreign countries. Moravian institutions of higher education include Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., and Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C. The official organs of the two American provinces are The Moravian and The Wachovia Moravian.
The Moravians have no specific creed, but their tenets agree in substance with those incorporated in the Apostles' Creed and the Augsburg Confession. The Bible is the only guide to faith and conduct. Infant baptism is practiced, but full church membership requires only a voluntary profession of faith. Congregations follow a liturgical form of worship; many retain the love feast in imitation of the ancient agape. Special stress is placed on fellowship and missionary work. Moravian church music, especially singing, is prominent. The Moravian Church in America is noted for its unity.
The first Moravians in America settled in Savannah, Georgia, in 1734, but moved to Pennsylvania six years later. About 1740 other Brethren, immigrating in groups, settled Bethlehem, Nazareth, and other Pennsylvania towns. Another group founded Salem (now part of Winston-Salem), N.C., in 1766. For a full century, residence in Moravian communities was closed to outsiders, but this policy was abandoned after 1856. In the late 1990s the Moravian Church in America reported about 51,000 members and 160 separate churches.

Holiness Churches

Holiness Churches, fundamentalist Protestant bodies that developed from Methodism and hold as their distinguishing feature the doctrine that holiness, or sanctification of the individual, occurs by a second act of grace that follows justification and is supplementary to it. The experience of holiness is also referred to as the second blessing. The National Holiness Movement came into being shortly after the American Civil War. Originally a protest movement within Methodism, it opposed the Methodist falling away from the emphasis on sanctification that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had developed. He had stressed original sin and justification by faith and added that the individual may be assured of forgiveness by a direct experience of the spirit, called sanctification, which he regarded as the step leading to Christian perfection.
Although the main body of the Holiness movement holds that sanctification is a second work of grace, some groups of the Pentecostal movement, an outgrowth of the Holiness churches, maintain that sanctification is essentially the dedication of the believer that begins with regeneration. Moreover, sanctification must be evidenced by the occurrence of certain spiritual phenomena, such as glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. The major representatives of the Holiness movement (excluding Pentecostal denominations) are the Church of the Nazarene and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). The latter originated about 1880 as a movement within existing churches to promote Christian unity. The founders were interested in relieving the church at large of what they believed was over-ecclesiasticism and restrictive organization and in reaffirming the New Testament as the true standard of faith and life. In addition to the holiness principle, they believe in, among other doctrines, the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, forgiveness of sin through the death of Christ and the repentance of the sinner, a nonmillennial concept of the return of Christ, and external reward or punishment as a result of the final judgment.
In the late 1990s the Church of God had 234,000 members in the United States and the Church of the Nazarene reported 627,000 members. There are about 25 other Holiness denominations, among them the rapidly growing Christian and Missionary Alliance with 346,000 U.S. members in the late 1990s.

In 1493, 12 priests accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage of exploration, and the first episcopal see was erected at Santo Domingo (now in the Dominican Republic), the first European settlement in the New World, in 1512. The second American see—that of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba—was established in 1522, the third—that of Mexico—in 1530. The missionaries who preached to the natives of the southeastern and southwestern portions of what is now the United States were mainly Spanish Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits. Between the middle of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century they established many communities in what are now the states of Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and California. French missionaries during the same time were preaching on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, in areas that are now Maine and northern New York, and even around the Great Lakes and in the Mississippi River valley. Before 1789 Catholics living in the colonies of Maryland and Pennsylvania were under the jurisdiction of the vicar apostolic of London, but in that year a see was established in Baltimore, and on August 15, 1790, American prelate John Carroll was consecrated its first bishop.
During the 19th century the tide of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere swelled the ranks of the Roman Catholic communion, and the Catholic population of the United States, which had been 30,000 in 1790, increased to 250,000 in 1820, about 1 million in 1840, and some 5 million in 1870. In the year 2000 the estimated Roman Catholic population of the United States had reached 62,391,500. During the same period, the U.S. Catholic hierarchy was composed of 11 cardinals (increasing to 13 in 2001), 50 archbishops, 366 bishops, and 46,603 priests. The total number of Roman Catholic parishes was 19,627. The church maintained 187 seminaries for the training of the clergy. Other educational institutions under Roman Catholic sponsorship were 7,081 elementary schools, 1,353 high schools, and 235 colleges and universities; the total number of students enrolled in these institutions was about 3,419,400.

In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the missionary zeal of French Jesuits, Ursulines, Sulpicians, and others aided the colonization of New France in the Canadian wilderness. The first Canadian martyrs were Jesuits killed in an Iroquois massacre of the Huron people in the 1640s. François Xavier de Laval-Montmorency, in charge of church affairs since 1659, was consecrated the first bishop of Québec in 1674. With Protestants legally banned from the colony, the bishop had a permanent seat on the three-man governing council; the clergy had charge of education, hospitals, and welfare; and the state enforced tithes and gave the church land and money. After the British conquest of New France in 1760, opposition to the church arose, but the Québec Act (1774) opened public office to Catholics and authorized continuation of tithes. As a result of 19th- and 20th-century immigration, the Roman Catholic Church in Canada grew rapidly, and it was removed from mission status in 1908. The newcomers, however, changed its character. Irish immigration in the early 1800s reduced the French Canadians to a minority among Catholics outside Québec and led to conflict over language and episcopal appointments. Such tension continued in the 20th century with the arrival of southern and eastern Europeans. In the late 1990s the Roman Catholic Church was the largest religious group in the country: 45 percent of all Canadians were Catholic. It still had some government recognition, especially in Québec and in provinces where Catholic schools received tax aid. Its clergy included 5 cardinals and 130 other prelates.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
American Protestant denomination that emerged during frontier revivals in early 19th-century Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Its founders hoped to serve as a unifying force among Protestants. The Bible, particularly the New Testament, is the sole ecclesiastical authority for the Disciples of Christ. Church polity is congregational. The founders of the Disciples were Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander Campbell, former Irish Presbyterian ministers. Their followers became known popularly as Campbellites, although they preferred to be known as Disciples of Christ. In 1809 Thomas Campbell founded the Christian Association of Washington County, Pennsylvania, which he based on a return to early Christian ideals. In 1811 Alexander joined his father in forming a congregation at Brush Run, Pennsylvania, and from there the movement spread westward. In 1832 the Kentucky revivalist Barton Stone and most of his followers, called Christians, united with the Campbell group.
Conflict arose among the Disciples during the second half of the 19th century. Churches of conservative-minded Disciples withdrew in protest against the development of mission societies and the use in worship of instrumental music, which they felt to be unscriptural. By 1906 the seceding groups had formed a separate denomination known as the Churches of Christ.
The movement remained a loosely connected brotherhood until 1968. The International Convention of Christian Churches was the coordinating organization under which state conventions and independent boards and agencies operated. In 1968, however, a restructure plan was adopted that strengthened the national framework. As a result, mission, education, and other agencies became coordinated through a general assembly; a biennial delegated assembly replaced the annual international convention, and an executive unit, called a general board, was established. The names Christian Church and Disciples of Christ, which had been used alternatively, were combined to give the church its present name. Local congregations retained property rights, the right to call clergymen and determine worship and programs, and the liberty to determine how much they should contribute to national operations of the church. Nevertheless, 2768 congregations of the 8046 listed withdrew from the national organization. Disciples recognize no formal creed. Baptism is usually by immersion, although, in accepting members, the rite of other churches often is recognized. Each congregation celebrates the Eucharist every Sunday as a memorial feast.
The Christian Church is one of the most ecumenically minded denominations. It participates in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Often in the forefront in social action and mission work, the Disciples have a global network of missions coordinated by the United Christian Missionary Society. The church has pioneered in ecumenical theological education; in addition to its sponsorship of divinity houses at major nondenominational universities, it also maintains such institutions as Transylvania College (1780), in Lexington, Kentucky, and Bethany College (1840), in Bethany, West Virginia. One of the best-known publications of the Disciples of Christ is Christian Century (established in 1894), which has been a significant force in the American ecumenical movement.

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Formerly known as COLORED METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Protestant denomination organized in Tennessee in 1870. On matters of doctrine and polity the denomination is in full agreement with the Methodist church. A quadrennial general conference is the chief policymaking body, and spiritual jurisdiction is exercised by bishops. The denomination maintains missions in Africa, South America, and the West Indies.
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was formed by black members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who withdrew from the parent body by mutual agreement after the American Civil War. The right of southern blacks to worship in their own churches, if they so desired, was first recognized by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1866, and the proposal to organize an independent black denomination was given final approval four years later. The new denomination, known as the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, held its first general conference in December 1870 in Jackson, Tennessee. On May 7, 1954, the name was changed officially to Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Christian Reformed Church
A religious denomination in the United States and Canada largely representing secession movements from the Reformed (Dutch) church in 1822, 1857, and 1882. The doctrinal standards are the same as those of other Reformed churches of Dutch origin, namely, the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort. A few of the congregations still use the Dutch language in worship; a constantly increasing majority use English. Mission work is carried on in South America, Africa, China, and among Native Americans in New Mexico. The denomination has a large parochial school system and a seminary and college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, site of its headquarters. It is governed by an annual synod. In the early 1990s the Christian Reformed Church reported a membership of 226,000 people in about 700 churches.

Evangelical United Brethren Church
American Protestant denomination formed in 1946 by merger of the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. The larger body then merged in 1968 with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church. The Evangelical Church was founded in 1803 by Jacob Albright in eastern Pennsylvania; its German-speaking members were known as Albrights and somewhat later as the Newly-Formed Methodist Conference. The name Evangelische Gemeinschaft (Evangelical Association) was made official, and the association adopted a discipline similar to, but more democratic than, that of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The use of the German language continued well into the 19th century. A division arose on a doctrinal question, and in 1894 a minority segment broke away, establishing a separate denomination, the United Evangelical church, which in 1922 was reunited with the Evangelical Association to form the Evangelical Church. The denomination was notably interested in the ecumenical movement and maintained membership in the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States and in the World Council of Churches. A smaller denomination, since 1928 called the Evangelical Congregational Church, did not join in the reunion of 1922. In the late 1990s the church reported membership of about 23,000 in 148 churches.
Before the union with the Methodist Church, the Evangelical United Brethren Church had 732,377 members in 3,970 congregations. The Evangelical Church of North America, formed by churches in the Pacific Northwest who refused to enter the new denomination, has about 150 churches and 3,300 members.

Churches of Christ
A group of churches, with no overall formal organization, that relies upon the Bible as its only religious authority. Historically, the Churches of Christ existed as one communion with the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) until 1906, when they were first listed in the United States Census as a separate body. Members consider themselves true Christians in direct descent from the primitive Christian church and not members of a modern denomination. Local churches are autonomous and follow an extreme form of congregational polity, holding that the local body of worshipers is the only organization sanctioned by the New Testament. No general conference or assembly is held, and the group has no central headquarters.
The Churches of Christ have no formal organization for collaboration with each other in educational, missionary, and charitable work. Assisted by voluntary associations of individuals, however, the churches maintain congregations and missions in more than 80 countries. They also operate orphanages and homes for the aged, 15 colleges, 9 universities, and more than 25 Christian schools in the United States (including Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas), and 7 schools and colleges outside the United States. One of their best-known periodicals is The Gospel Advocate, founded in 1855.
Members approve only those religious tenets and forms for which specific authority can be found in the New Testament. Accordingly, their worship consists of a standard, fivefold pattern of reading and preaching from the Bible, the commemorative celebration of the Eucharist, prayer, the singing of hymns unaccompanied by instrumental music, and contributions for church support. Belief in Christ as the Son of God, repentance of sin, and baptism by immersion are requirements for membership.
Churches of Christ congregations are maintained in all 50 states; they are most numerous in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. In the late 1990s the church reported membership of 2 million in 15,000 separate congregations.

Churches of God in North America (General Eldership)
A Christian protestant denomination in the United States that generally agrees in doctrine with Arminianism. The denomination has its origins in a 19th-century revivalist movement in the United States, particularly in the preachings of one of the most active revivalists, John Winebrenner. Winebrenner, ordained in the German Reformed church, formed the first Church of God in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1826. In 1830 the church members adopted a basis of organization, the leading points of which were that the believers in any given places are, under divine order, to constitute one body; that division into sects and parties under human names and creeds is contrary to the spirit of the New Testament; that the believers of any community, organized into one body, constitute God's household or family and should be known as the Church of God; that the Bible, without note or comment, constitutes a sufficient rule of faith and practice, but creeds and confessions tend to promote divisions and sects; and that the ordinances of immersion in water in the name of the Trinity, the washing of the saints' feet, and the partaking of bread and wine in commemoration of the suffering and death of Christ are binding upon all believers.
The words “in North America” were added to the church title in 1845, and in 1903 ”Church” was changed to “Churches.” The separate churches in each state are organized into conferences or elderships that meet annually; a general eldership meets triennially. Membership in the early 1990s was nearly 32,500 with 347 churches.

A doctrine in Christianity, formulated in the 17th century, which declares that human free will can exist without limiting God's power or contradicting the Bible. Named for the Dutch Calvinist Jacobus Arminius, the doctrine gradually became a liberal alternative to the more rigid belief in predestination held by High Calvinists in Holland and elsewhere (see Calvinism; Predestination).
Arminius, who studied in Geneva under the French Protestant Theodore Beza, returned to his native Holland and was a professor (1603-9) at the Leiden University. He believed predestination was biblical and true—that God had intended some persons for heaven and others for hell, as indicated by Jesus' reference to “sheep and goats.” But he focused on God's love more than on God's power in speaking of election, the process by which God chose those intended for heaven.
After Arminius died, a group of ministers who sympathized with his views developed a systematic and rational theology based on his teachings. In their declaration, a remonstrance issued in 1610, the Arminians argued that election was conditioned by faith, that grace could be rejected, that the work of Christ was intended for all persons, and that it was possible for believers to fall from grace.
At the Synod of Dort or Dordrecht (1618-19), the High Calvinists prevailed over the Arminian Party and condemned the Remonstrants. The Synod of Dort declared that Christ's work was meant only for those elect to salvation, that people believing could not fall from grace, and that God's election depended on no conditions. Remonstrants were not tolerated at all in Holland until 1630, and then not fully until 1795. They have, however, continued an Arminian tradition in the Netherlands into the late 20th century.
The English John Wesley studied and affirmed the work of Arminius in his Methodist movement during the 18th century in England. American Methodists for the most part have leaned toward the theology of the Remonstrants. In popular expression Arminianism has come to mean that no predestination exists and people are free to follow or reject the gospel

* Mostly taken from MS-ENCARTA and its contributors, edited for accuracy

As you see from above that there were and some still are many divisions among protestants because that movement allowed anyone to accept or reject any theological or tenets of the Roman Catholic Church and even make their own interpretation which is strictly forbidden by the Bible:

2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. i.e. the scriptures were inspired by the Holy spirit when written and must remain without private interpretation.

Moreover, some leaders especially of independant churches make their churches for the love of money more than the love of God which is strictly forbidden by the Bible

1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God ....; not for filthy lucre, ....

Many of the teachings of protestants are described in the following verses:

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,....

Finally, because the protestantism's movement began as speaking out against the wrong (indulgences) ended up in splitting Catholics only into two. However because who divides will be divided into so many as our Lord foretold us. One of those verses is as follows:

Gospel: St. Mark 3:25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Our Lord desires and commands that ALL CHRISTIANS BE ONE, ONE FAITH, ONE BODY OF CRIST, for verses indicating one flock, oneness, one faith and one body of CHRIST, click here